Teresa Duncan, MS
It’s becoming more challenging for dental insurance coordinators, office managers, and financial coordinators to keep up with the changing insurance benefit landscape. It’s equally challenging to patients, especially when so much information must be communicated to patients within a small amount of time. Here are a few ways to have more successful insurance and financial conversations so more patients schedule and complete care.
Patients expect the practice to be familiar with and understand their dental benefits. When a patient calls the office, they have made the decision to move forward with scheduling. Being willing and able to help them with their benefits gives them just another reason to choose your practice as their dental home. It’s still smart to set expectations with patients: you may not know all the details of their insurance, but you will find out.
Keep it simple
Insurance language can be confusing. To help patients understand, use language that is more descriptive and positive rather than language that revolves around contract clauses and limitations. For example, when we use the word “maximum,” patients may get the impression that what is covered by the maximum is the level of care the patient can or should get. Instead, help patients understand that dental insurance is not designed to cover all the costs of dentistry.
If there’s an out-of-pocket investment, share the option of promotional financing, such as with a CareCredit health-care credit card, to help make it more affordable.
Patients will always be concerned and have questions about cost. By assuming the patient will have questions, we can prepare for those conversations. To be effective, we must serve patients clinically and financially. When we provide financial solutions, including helping them understand and optimize their benefits, we reinforce our roles as patient advocates.
Teresa Duncan, MS, is the founder of Odyssey Management. She is a speaker and author with more than 20 years’ experience in health care. Her areas of expertise include proven accounts receivable and insurance methods.