Should Hygienists Talk to Patients About Money?

I get this question all the time… ‘Should hygienists talk to patients about money?’

Last week, I had the privilege to attend three conferences: the ADA, the Academy of Dental Consultants and the Care Credit Summit. I learned about some dramatic changes coming to dental billing. It’s not just Medicaid or Medicare providers…these changes will effect every practice.  These changes can be navigated and we are fortunate to have some really smart consultants to be our guides through this process.

You’ve probably already seen some changes in reimbursement restrictions. These changes are going to create some tough challenges for dental practices that have no clear, written financial arrangements system.

For one, they will likely encounter angry patients that assumed (whether correctly or not) their insurance provider would ‘cover’ the cost of all their treatment.  This may be a result of not providing enough (or incomplete) documentation to the benefit provider to warrant reimbursement or simply changes in what ‘qualifies’ for reimbursement.

Patient never like unpleasant financial surprises and it can create negative reviews of your practice.

The bottom line is this:  Every patient that is presented with a diagnosis and a treatment plan must have a written financial arrangement document. 

 Does this come from the hygienist, the office manager, or the financial coordinator? It depends on your practice culture and philosophy. Anyone in the practice can do a super job presenting financial arrangements as long as they are trained properly.

I recently authored an article for RDH Magazine giving some sample language for hygienists to use when patients ask about the cost of treatment.

Click HERE to access the article. I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback.