Offer Your Dental Patients Transparent Treatment Fees
Blurry pricing could be hurting your practice.
“How much is this car?”
“It’s hard to say. We’ll send you a bill after we file the paperwork. Be sure to pay the bill when you get it.”
Now, imagine being that confused car customer. Do you roll the dice and hope the price is under budget? Or do you pass on the purchase because your other bills are more pressing. Lack of pricing is a source of financial stress, not just for car shoppers but also health care consumers. This happens every day in our offices. Dental patients often can’t determine whether our services are priced accurately and to them, cavities and crowns mean large numbers with a high cost.
Patients have the right to know the cost of their dental care upfront, as well as what their dental insurance covers. Pricing transparency provides all patients with the opportunity to make educated decisions about their prescribed treatment. Why is it so hard to achieve accuracy? It could be from misaligned fee schedules, frequency limitations, and restrictive clauses that can make it difficult to provide consistently accurate estimates. Even the most experienced insurance coordinators can be surprised by a new plan provision.
Let’s go back to the car dealership. What happens when the invoice arrives with a price 10-15% higher than you budgeted? You’ve driven the car home and there are no returns at this point. Does this sound similar to a patient with a delivered crown who now receives an unexpected costly bill? Thankfully I’ve never had a patient return a nicely seated crown over a balance but I’m sure it’s happened! Surprised consumers will think twice before visiting an establishment with blurry pricing.
Dental patients should be able to trust our coinsurance estimates. They’re not knowledgeable enough to decipher their plan benefits and apply all the possible clauses. Our patients with lower or fixed incomes truly depend on us to not bust their budgets. A new crown often means patients are dipping into hard-earned savings. If the insurance estimate comes back short, then you can bet that your patient will stress over finding the extra dollars. Perhaps the next time they’ll think twice before returning your calls.
Accurate pricing strengthens the relationship between the dental office and the patient. It drives engagement and treatment compliance, which can lead to improved oral health outcomes. Whether you are offering your patients accurate coinsurance estimations or simply a predictable fee through your membership plan, keep in mind that maintaining your patients’ trust is essential. Wouldn’t it be nice if questions about fees could take a back seat to more important treatment conversations? It’s not just the ideal situation but it’s what our patients deserve.
About the Author
With over 20 years of healthcare experience, Teresa addresses topics such as Insurance Coding, Office Manager Training and Patient Conversations. Her memberships include the National Speakers Association and the National Association of Dental Plans. She has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry and is the author of Moving Your Patients to Yes: Easy Insurance Conversations as well as a contributing author to the ADA’s annual CDT Companion Guide™. Her podcasts “Nobody Told Me That!” and “Chew On This!” provide regular coding and management updates. Teresa received her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management.
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