Approaching Fees For The Big Cases

Episode 052

How do you handle questions about fees on the big cases? This week I discuss this topic on a large implant case that we just completed. Have a listen to episode 52 of the Business of Dentistry podcast…

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This past week was a super busy and interesting week in my office. We had multiple surgeries, including an all-day implant surgery. I wanted to talk to you about that case in particular.

The work that needed to be done for the patient carried a hefty price tag, it was an expensive surgery and restorative case. The average around here for a case like this one is $25k per arch, so a substantial amount of money is involved.

Prior to the procedure, the patient came in with her mom. I was there, of course, along with my implant treatment coordinator Meredith and Dr. Long who would be the restorative doctor on the case.

We all sat down with the patient and the patient’s mom to go over the case, answer their questions, review the treatment plan, as well as the fees and finances, and to talk about how all of this was going to play out. This was extremely beneficial for us and for the patient, I encourage you to do the same: have everyone in the same room prior to surgeries and procedures and have everyone’s questions answered in one sitting.

I leaned on Dr. Long to help answer restorative questions, and I was there to answer their surgical questions. My point is the entire team should be present to answer all of the patients questions as completely and fully as possible, prior to scheduling the procedure.

One piece of that conversation was the financial aspect. The surgical fee for this particular case was $27k, and we talked to the patient about it ahead of time. She made it easy for us and paid it upfront.

But we came in with options for her if she couldn’t pay the costs ahead of time. That’s also something I encourage you to do: figure out ahead of time what payment plan options you will offer your patient. That’s something to think about before you talk with the patient.

Based on my past experiences, I suggest you secure at least 50% before you do the procedure, and have a financial plan going forward for yourself and your patients for the remainder. You have to have a way for them to finance these procedures if they don’t pay upfront. Some practices offer in-house financing as an alternative, I do not.

In the past my office has used CareCredit. Some people prefer third-party financing, for example we have worked with American General, and Springfield Financial to name a few. You may have different options available to your practice.

Either way it’s important for your patients to have payment options for big procedures and for them to get the treatment they need, even if they don’t have the funds to pay in full upfront.

When I haven’t secured a substantial portion of the fees ahead of time, I have eaten a lot of costs for expensive procedures. Sometimes the patients simply stopped making payments after the work had already been done; so you want the patient to have some skin in the game before you get all the necessary equipment and pieces for their procedure.

I brought this up today because it was relevant and timely, but also because it’s a bit controversial. Some people believe doctors should not talk money, and should not talk about fees; they should delegate that to someone in the office.

Others believe the doctor should be able to look the patient in the eye comfortably and have a good idea of their fees, explain them and talk about them with their patients.

Listen in to hear why I’ve changed my philosophy on this today, and how I used to handle fees in the past as well as why I don’t do a hard sell with any case. Then let’s hear from you: how do you handle the fees and financing for big procedures? Shoot me an email and let me know, or leave a comment here after you listen to episode 51 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Talk to the patient about the financial side of things.”

Episode Resources

Dr. Jon Alan Long on Business of Dentistry
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