Retirement for Dentists: These Days, Retirement is Totally Optional

Dental Retirement Survey ResultsOne in Five Dentists Can’t Afford to Retire

In a recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists about their retirement plans. Two-thirds of our dentist respondents say that they expect to choose keep working part-time to keep themselves busy. Only 13% replied that they’re on track financially and will retire completely once their financial goals are fully met. One in five dentists would like to retire, but aren’t sure they will be financially able to afford it.

We also asked dentists about their target retirement age. And aren’t the specialists lucky! They’re planning to retire an average of six years before their colleagues practicing general dentistry.

What’s your target retirement age?
Average: 63 years old
General Dentists: 64 years old
Specialists: 58 years old

Check out the complete dental retirement survey results

Dental Practice Fraud Causes 200k Embezzlement Warning

dental embezzlementThe Colorado Dental Association recently sent an email alert to member dentists regarding a $200,000+ embezzlement that occurred in a dental practice related to the processing of credit cards.

According to the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society, experts estimate that more than 50% of dentists are embezzled with an average loss of $50,000.

But, because embezzlers often steal relatively small amounts over a long period of time, the misappropriation of funds goes unnoticed.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75 percent of all employees steal at least once, and that half of these steal repeatedly. The Denver District Attorney’s Office website warns, “embezzlement is at epidemic proportions accounting for 20 percent of all cases filed by the Denver District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit.” In 1970, one in 200 employees was dishonest; it is estimated that today, one in six employees is dishonest.

The MDDS states that the most common method of embezzlement in a dental practice occurs through theft of cash, checks or supplies.

Here are a few embezzlement scenarios that occur in dental practices –

  • Cash is pocketed from patients.
  • Petty cash is stolen.
  • Cash or checks are removed from the daily deposits and replaced with subsequent receipts.
  • Insurance fraud.
  • Endorsements are forged.
  • Writing duplicate accounts payable checks or writing checks to phony vendors.
  • Stealing supplies and re-selling or returning to vendors for refunds that are pocketed by employees.

In a survey The Wealthy Dentist performed in 2010, 59% of the dentists surveyed said they had discovered evidence of embezzlement. With such a high degree of fraud, how does a dentist diminish the risk of embezzlement?

The American Bar Association offers the following checklist on how to prevent fraud and embezzlement –

  • Adopt an effective, documented system of internal controls to protect against acts of dishonest staff.
  • Bank and credit card statements can be delivered to the business owner’s home or separate address for personal review.
  • Checks and debit transactions should be reviewed with the statements.
  • Checks should require two signatures, or be reviewed by the owner.
  • A copy of the bank reconciliation should be attached to each monthly bank statement and reviewed by two parties.
  • Finance or accounting personnel should not be signers on all bank accounts.
  • Checks received in the mail should be immediately endorsed by a two-person team who opens and processes the mail.
  • After checks are properly endorsed and verified, the bookkeeper should take charge of the checks for deposit.

Have you recently experienced embezzlement in your dental practice?

For more on employee embezzlement and how to prevent it see – The Metropolitan Denver Dental Society Watchdog

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?

Dental Practice Management & Dental Insurance (Video)

Dental practice management and dental insuranceDental insurance is such a mixed bag. It can make patients more likely to seek treatment. dental insurance can bring new patients into a practice, and it’s the core of many dental practices.

Unfortunately, it can also lead not just to headaches, but also to lost income. Dentists know the fault lies not with the patients, but with the dental plans and insurance companies.

“Taking dental insurance allowances is a recipe for financial failure. Just look at the numbers,” said a Pennsylvania dentist.

This survey by The Wealthy Dentist asked doctors what percentage of their dental patients use dental insurance.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss the dental practice management issues surrounding accepting dental insurance:

Of dentists responding to this survey, two out of five said that at least 70% of their patients have dental coverage.

“We will file for all our patients but are not in network with any insurance companies. I see about 50% of patients with insurance,” said a general dentist.

“We are not a preferred provider for anyone, but we accept any insurance that allows out-of-network dentists. We do charge the patient the difference between our fees and what the insurance pays,” said a Texas dentist.

What percentage of your patients still carry dental insurance?

Dental Insurance Survey: Dentists Handle Claims For Patients

dental insurance survey

When asked if they handle dental insurance for their patients, the dentists who responded yes to handling dental insurance were the clear majority in this survey.

On March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act became law and as states begin to deal with the implementation of the act, several are looking to adapt their own version of the plan.

California is just one of those states.

As reported in The Sun, Democrats in California have recently revived Senate Bill 810, which would create a public-private partnership to provide every California resident with medical, dental, vision, hospitalization and prescription drug benefits.

The California universal care plan would provide comprehensive dental care – something largely not addressed in the federal plan.

Here at The Wealthy Dentist, we were curious how dentists are currently handling dental insurance in their practices. Many of the dentists surveyed felt handling dental insurance for their patients is an important part of providing superior customer service.

“Not only do we handle insurance claims for our patients, but we also fight insurance companies for our patients until a claim is finally paid,” noted one dentist. “I believe its part of how much do we as dentists want to give customer service.”

In this survey, 85% of dentists handle all insurance claim forms for patients with dental insurance, 8% don’t accept insurance, and 7% don’t handle insurance claims, but do help patients fill out the forms.

Here are some dentist comments:

  • “Many of my patients would go elsewhere if they had to pay up front for services themselves.” (General dentist)
  • “I think its a matter of customer service to handle insurance for your patients.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “I pride myself on customer service and I believe it’s an absolute no-brainer as part of my truly great customer service. My team (including me) file ALL insurance claims for our patients.” (General dentist)
  • “As a specialist where one-time emergency visits are common, we find it necessary to research insurance benefits for our patients in order to present and collect estimated co-payments at the time of service.” (Ohio specialist)
  • “I would like to see better tools for educating patients about dental insurance benefits and liabilities, as well as setting better expectations with dental insurance verses medical insurance models.” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “Dental insurance is one of the most aggravating things about dentistry. What I would like to do is collect from the patient, then help them submit the claims.” (California dentist)

For more on this survey see: Dental Insurance: Most dentists handle insurance claims for patients

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