Some Thoughts To Consider:
1. We do not recommend having patients “sign over” the insurance checks. Especially with the post 9/11 terrorism banking regulations, it is just not a good idea. Have the patient deposit it in their personal account and issue you a check if they want to pay with the insurance check. The audit trail is much cleaner this way and you do not look as if you have a money laundering business incorporated into your dental business. As the usage of checks continues to decline, we might as well start getting used to it and helping our patients adapt, the future is looking like the benefit reimbursement money will be deposited directly into the patient’s bank account. If the patient would like to receive benefits, the insurance company will request bank information. This policy change will eliminate illegal aliens receiving benefits and reduces the insurance companies internal costs (printing and mailing checks).
2. Be focused on what you can do for the patient. Be enthusiastic about the change to insurance companies paying patients directly. It is actually good for dentistry. Finally, we are truly disassociated with the insurance plan purchased for the patient and the benefit coverage that goes along with the plan. This is good! Yes, it will require some conversations with patients, and patients might be confused and upset. If we are clear about what we can do for the patient, and the patient values the relationship you have with them, all will be well.
3. Most patients continue coming to you as a result of the relationships they have established with you and your team. They do not want to go to another dentist for their care. They trust you and your team. Make sure everyone on the team can clearly articulate what makes you better and different other practices. You use top quality materials, do not cut corners, and focus on prevention so the patient’s overall expenditure for dentistry is less, plus many others. To regularly make this a part of your conversations with patients, practice amongst your team. That is another way of saying, Role Play.
4. Think about what would be required of your practice to earn the same income while incorporating a reduced fee schedule. How does the level of care you provide decline and how does the patient ultimately pay and suffer as a result? If there is no difference between what you do now, and what the patient would receive if you accepted a reduced fee plan, if there are no benefits for the patient (benefits that patients can understand), your practice should be able to join a reduced fee plan and not have consequences for patients. Make sure everyone on your team clearly understands this and knows patient stories or case studies to reinforce the reason why you have not joined a reduced fee plan.
5. Your fees are a reflection of the care you deliver, the skill you deliver that care with, and your education (A.K.A. your ability to make judgments on the best long term, low cost solution for the patient). You have multiple options to help patients with how to handle the fee for treatment, many that allow the patient to make smaller monthly payments over a long period of time. Be sure you and the members of the team presenting this option have the right attitude about it – if they do not believe it is good for the patient, you will have fewer patients taking advantage of working with your financial partner.
6. There is no single verbal skill that will work every time with every patient. You and your team have to believe you are providing wonderful services to your patients and are receiving a fair fee for those services. Sometimes we have to be better at “tooting our own horn” and letting patients know what they are getting from us, even if they do not ask. If they ask, it is usually too late, they may have made a decision without all the information you would like them to have.