I have been receiving your newsletters for approx 6 months now and thoroughly enjoy reading each one. You have very helpful and informative suggestions. Thank you.
However, today I would like to ask you a question that has come up many times in my dental career as an office manager for the last 6 years.
I have heard many ‘opinions’ on this matter and would like your feedback:
When you have a patient who schedules for major dental work (and signs a treatment plan and has been given a copy of your office’s financial policy) and gets approximately 60% thru the lengthy multi-appointment treatment without paying any money under the guise that they “have insurance that pays 70%” on major tx and continues to “forget” their wallet when asked each time for their co-pay.
Do I have any recourse to ‘encourage’ this patient to pay. We are down to the ’seat date’ for this bridge (which req’d an unexpected 2 RCT’s and other extensive procedures to prep it). Keeping ethics in mind, can we postpone seating the bridge in order to ‘encourage’ this patient to pay?
It seems like the patient is totally in the driver’s seat despite the fact that we did our part by educating her on tx plan and financial policies prior to tx and talking finances each time she comes in.
I feel that there must be something we have as leverage…I just don’t know what. Feeling helpless is not a dental office manager’s perogative – we should always be informed and educated for the sake of our patients and the practice.
Please advise me on thoughts about this ethical dilemma.
Thanks for your kind compliments. First let me say that ethics and peer review, etc. will be determined by the state in which your doctor practices. I would have advised to do a financial plan or patient financing such as Care Credit on the patient’s 30% responsibility. Since it seems that this was not done or perhaps the patient is ignoring this, you are going to have to get on the phone with this patient and have a heart to heart. You have to let them know that to date they have not paid for their services and it is evident that you never have your wallet with you when you come in. Therefore, I am happy to take a credit card number over the phone from you but we must have payment in full before the work is completed. If she says she doesn’t have a credit card then take the information for financing over the phone.
Would I postpone seating the bridge…….yes I would. The patient is not playing a fair ball game. Hopefully you have a signed financial agreement that states the work must be paid for in full. The problem seems that the “toughness” on your part has not been tough enough along the way. The patient is NOT in control. She knows that she can push you over and she has. It’s time for you to stand firm now and let her know you are in control. If you have to get the doctor on the phone with her then I would do it. No more Miss Nice Office Manager.
Hope this helps.