Maximizing patient financing: Part 5

Part five of our series on maximizing a health-care financing program delves into the issue of insurance - how you can maximize a patient’s insurance benefits by supplementing it with a health-care financing program.

Part five of our series on maximizing a health-care financing program delves into the issue of insurance - how you can maximize a patient’s insurance benefits by supplementing it with a health-care financing program.

You may find that many people are putting off their dental treatment even though they have dental insurance. Available benefits are not being used because these people may not be able to handle the estimated patient portion or copayment. At the time of the financial consultation - or any time you are making a financial arrangement with a patient - be ready to introduce your health-care financing program.

During any financial discussion, make sure you create a comfortable and safe environment for this very private conversation. If the patient expresses a concern about the investment, ask questions and listen to make sure you are clear about the concern. You may find your patient wants the treatment that has been recommended and that this person has dental insurance. However, the patient may think that his or her dental insurance will cover the entire bill - which, of course, it won’t. Help your patients to understand how dental insurance works. At the same time, let them know that you offer payment options to help them finance the part of the bill that insurance doesn’t cover.

What you don’t want to happen is for a patient to say “no” to treatment and walk out your door. Discuss the total investment, the amount you expect insurance will cover, and how much the monthly payment will be if the patient chooses to finance the copayment with your financial partner. In most instances, the monthly payments will be quite small, and it can make treatment that seemed a financial impossibility become affordable.

In Part 3 of this series, we discussed chart-auditing. As you contact patients during your chart audit, let them know you will file their insurance as a service to them (if you are taking assignment of benefits). Tell them if they would like to finance the portion of the investment that insurance does not cover, you have a new, convenient way for them to do just that. Then tell them about your financing program.

I can think of so many patients with whom I have spoken who have dental insurance, but simply could not proceed because they couldn’t handle the large balance that insurance did not cover. When they found they could receive the care they needed, but not be put into a financially stressful state, they were thrilled! Not being able to handle the cost of the dental care is the main reason people do not proceed with treatment. Help them with this!

Tell your insured patients about this opportunity to utilize insurance benefits and then make convenient monthly payments for the amount of the fee that insurance does not cover. You will find more of your patients will use their insurance when they are given financial options to pay their portion of the bill.

If you are not taking insurance on assignment, but asking patients to pay you in full and file for reimbursement directly with the insurance company, terrific! However, keep in mind that some patients may want (and need) to finance their entire treatment so that the monthly payments will be comfortable for them. That’s fine - both of you win in this scenario.

Here’s a sample script to use while discussing your practice’s financial options:

“Ms. Jones, it sounds to me like you do want to receive the treatment the doctor is recommending to you, but you need to spread the payments out over a period of time to keep the monthly payments comfortable for you and your family. That’s very understandable. For that reason, we have a financial partner who assists our patients with their financial needs. You can finance the entire treatment Dr. Jameson has recommended for you, we will file your insurance for you, and you will be reimbursed directly by the insurance company. Once you receive your check from your insurance company, you can make a substantial payment to the finance company, which will lower your balance and your monthly payment. Let’s fill out the application now. It will just take a couple of minutes, and I will be more than happy to help you.”

Whether you are taking assignment of benefits or not, you can help more patients maximize their insurance benefits by coordinating insurance with your financing program. Then, more patients will use their insurance on a more regular basis. Good for the patients ... good for your practice!

Dr. Cathy Jameson is the president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy’s books, “Great Communication = Great Production” and “Collect What You Produce,” are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, e-mail her at cathy@jamesonmanagement.com, or visit her Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.

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