Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator Necessary?

Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator NecessaryThe dental office financial arrangement coordinator is an important part of dental practice management.

The financial coordinator assists dental patients with making payment arrangements and coordinating dental insurance benefits so that dental treatments are compatible with the patient’s budget, thus you, the dentist, get paid in a timely manner.

When asked about having a financial arrangement coordinator for his dental office, one California dentist complained, “I wish everyone would just pay at the time of service!”

In our most recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists if they employ a team member as a financial arrangements coordinator, and dentists were pretty split on their responses. 55% responded that they do not employ a team member as a financial arrangement coordinator, and 45% responded that they do employ a team member to carry out this important dental practice function.

Dentists’ feelings on the subject are mixed; some feel this type of position is better suited for larger dental practices, while others insist it’s absolutely necessary to have someone handle financial arrangements.

Here are just a few of the comments from the responding dentists:

“I have 1 designated team member to make financial arrangements, but occasionally another member has to step in due to the primary being out of the office for various reasons.” (Nevada dentist)

“We estimate dental insurance benefits, and receive the patient’s portion on the date services are provided. Other than that, the only other financial arrangement offered is through Care Credit. Our receptionist comfortably handles this as part of her duties.” (Illinois dentist)

“This is probably a great idea for larger multi-dentist offices, but I find it is not likely to be cost effective in a smaller practice.” (General dentist)

“We have only one person and no one else discusses money. That way it stays simple and patients can’t say someone told them something different. For the most part we have a set of rules to follow, but there is always that special situation where we break the norm.” (General dentist)

“Complete necessity to have someone ultimately responsible and the ‘go to’ person for all financial arrangements, especially patient interaction.” (Michigan dentist)

“An absolute necessity to have one person handling this!” (California dentist)

“This position is vital to keeping cash-flow running smoothly.” (General dentist)

“I make all the necessary financial arrangements directly with my patients, but I am an old-fashioned dentist in a small town, and I want to know what is going on (financially) with my patients.” (Kansas dentist)

How do you handle this dental practice management position in your dental practice? Is one person designated as your financial arrangements coordinator?

Dentist Thinks All Dentists Should Drop Dental Insurance (video)

Dentist Thinks All Dentists Should Drop Dental Insurance (video)Dental insurance is a great way to bring in new dental patients, but it is also a great way to reduce a dental practice’s bottom line and give dentists less control over their dental practice.

Explained one endodontist, “If I dropped dental insurance I’d be cutting ties to 85% of my patient base!”

Another doctor suggested, “If all dentists dropped all insurances, then all dentists could collect fees in full from everyone!”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they have dropped dental insurance.  Many dentists responded that they are sick and tired of dental insurance companies dictating fees and treatments, leaving a number of them wanting to drop their dental health plans.

To hear more of what dentists had to say about dropping dental insurance, Click Play —

What are your thoughts on dental insurance?

Dentist & Dental Insurance: No Love Lost (video)

Dentists not accepting dental insuranceHalf of dentists have mostly or completely stopped accepting dental insurances, according to this survey.

"If all dentists dropped all insurances, then ALL dentists could collect their fees in full from everyone," declared one dentist. "They could also have more leeway to give courtesy discounts to whomever they choose instead of patients who belong to certain plans."

"I'd be cutting ties to 85% of my patient base!" objected an endodontist.

"We converted to [not accepting dental insurance] six years ago," explained one dentist. "We ask for payment at time of service, then send in the claim form for the patient to have insurance company pay them. People have to want to stay with you because this policy can rub many the wrong way. I have lost many a patient over this, but still gain many new patients every month who are fine with it. I have built a strong reputation in my community for personal service, quality, and outstanding cosmetic dentistry. Hopefully that is what keeps them coming back."

"So-called 'insurance' companies must be making a fortune on 'dental insurance,'" fumed another dentist. "When these programs began in the 1960's, the dental coverage limits generally were $500-750 per calendar year. A dental crown cost $100 then. Now, 50 years later, porcelain crowns cost $1000, but the yearly limits are $750-1500. The dental insurance plan premiums have surely kept up with 50 years of inflation, but the dental plan benefits haven't. Do the math… somebody is making a hell of a lot of money on these plans, and it is not the dentist!"

Read more about this dental management survey: Most Dentists Are Dropping Dental Insurances

Is Creating a Dental Insurance Club Smart Dental Marketing?

Is Creating a Dental Insurance Club Smart Dental Marketing?Now, more than ever, dentists must be smart about their dental marketing efforts, but do these efforts need to include creating a solution for uninsured dental patients?

A local Evansville, Indiana dentist thinks so.

Dentist Chris Meunier has developed a way for his uninsured dental patients to afford dental care by creating a dental insurance club.

Dr. Meunier told 14News.com that his private dental insurance plan acts like a dental club.

For a yearly membership fee of $299, dental patients can receive dental care from Dr. Meunier for procedures such as teeth cleanings, dental X-rays and periodic dental exams. The membership plan also gives patients a 20% discount on most dental treatments.

“Most of the patients that we are signing up are patients that we have been treating anyway and they don’t have dental coverage, so they are paying my full fee out of pocket. So now they are getting the benefit of the membership and they are getting 20% off of certain procedures that they need to have done. They get some tooth whitening that’s included too, so it’s been a good thing,” Meunier told 14News.com.

Dr. Meunier’s dental plan is smart because it stimulate loyalty and permanent relationships with some of his best dental patients.

Do you think this is a brilliant dental marketing move by the dentist, or do you think implementing your own dental insurance club would create more hassle than it’s worth?

For more on this story see: Local Dentist Setting Up Plan to Help Those Without Insurance

Dentists: Are You No Longer a Wealthy Dentist?

Dentists: Are You No Longer a Wealthy Dentist?Dentists’ incomes are dropping according to a report published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

The ADA and data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel conducted a survey to analyze trends in real gross billings per dentist visit, rates of collection of gross dental patient billings, number of visits to a dentist, percentage of the population who visited a dentist, population to dentist ratio and average real practice expenses.

The survey results reflect a random sample of approximately 4000 to 7000 dentists in private practice.

The survey found that the downward income trend was driven primarily by a decrease in dental patients seeking dental care.

The decline in dental care use, although most notable during the economic downturn, appears to have started before the downturn began.

A smaller portion of the U.S. population is seeing a dental care annually, going from 40.6% in 2005 to 38.6% in 2009.

Marko Vujicic, PhD, an American Dental Association economist, told Medscape Medical News that another study confirmed that an increasing number of Americans say they can no longer afford the dental care they need. Many states cut Medicaid dental benefits at the same time that employers cut back on dental insurance benefits, which left more of the general population without dental insurance coverage.

Further ADA surveys have shown that the reason dental patients don’t go to the dentist more often is that it now costs too much (34%). More than half of consumers (51%) who have not been to the dentist in the past five years report that high costs are an important factor. About 26% of consumers had a previous bad experience with a dentist and one-quarter do not feel that it is necessary to go to the dentist until a problem occurs.

According to the ADA the average gross billings per owner dentist in 2009 was $727,630 for a general practitioner and $1,004,820 for a specialist.

Quality dental marketing seems to help buck the downward income trend by helping dentists acquire more new dental patients. Investing in the latest dental technology also helps add to the dental practice bottom line, according to dental accountant Bassim Michael.

What has your experience been this year? Has your dental practice income dropped?

For more on this story see: Dentists’ Incomes Dropping, Says ADA Survey

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