Do you currently have a financial policy in your practice? Do you have a written agreement with patients regarding payment for your services? If you do, when is the last time you reviewed it? In today’s episode I discuss some of the key elements of my financial policy and explain some of the reasons I have one for my practice.
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The reason I recommend creating a financial policy or updating an existing one is the security it provides you. While it’s only a “back door” kind of security it beats not having anything at all! In order to help you know what to include in that policy and why to include it, I recorded episode 23 of the Business of Dentistry.
I cover multiple points in the show today, and will list several of them here. The first reason to have this policy in place is to help your patients. Very often patients don’t know insurance as well as you do, not even their own policies. Sometimes they don’t even know they have coverage or who is providing that coverage! So by having them sign an agreement ahead of time you make sure they find out what insurance is available for them.
We stipulate this in our office’s financial policy by explaining that the insurance coverage is between the patient and insurance, but ultimately the patient is responsible for their dental bill. We explain in our policy that they must pay whatever the insurance doesn’t pay, but that we will file with insurance as a courtesy for them.
By stating this outright the patient knows what they are agreeing to, and by signing the form they are giving their personal agreement to the policy.
The second reason I recommend a financial policy for all of your patients is so they agree to pay the full before they receive your services. They now know they are responsible for all the insurance company doesn’t cover, and they pay it before the work is done.
This is so much easier than trying to track down people after the fact! Even if the insurance company covers more than your original estimate it’s far easier to give someone credit with you, or to give them a refund. Trying to get people to pay up after you’ve done the work already is an uphill battle and I don’t recommend trying to fight it.
Another reason I suggest a financial policy be in place so people know you do or don’t offer office-based financing. Personally I no longer offer this service, I’ve done this in the past and I’ve been burned by it so I stopped doing it.
If you decide not to offer financing options yourself you can still help your patients afford your services by working with third party financiers like Care Credit. Or you can always try your local, small bank or credit union. By doing this you put the onus on the bank to take care of the payments – which is something they do every day! – and you are paid at the time of your services without hassle.
Also on today’s show I share why working with insurance companies is much like a form of financing and why you should put a financial policy in place even if your practice is in a small town. Listen in to hear all of that and more on episode 23 of Business of Dentistry.