Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 11 Dec 31 Deadline 1

5 tips to get dental patients to complete treatment before their insurance runs out

Nov. 21, 2017
It's that time of year again, when dental practices should inform patients that they'll lose their insurance benefits if they don't use them before December 31. Patients will appreciate you for it.
It's that time of year again, when dental practices should inform patients that they'll lose their insurance benefits if they don't use them before December 31. Patients will appreciate you for it.

This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.

A new year provides us with a fresh start and endless opportunities for change. For dental practices who are contracted with dental plans, the new year means that patients have had their benefits reset and are ready to tackle dental treatment that they’ve either postponed or could not afford last year. As 2017 comes to a close, many dental practices face the dilemma of getting patients to accept and complete dental treatment: “USE IT OR LOSE IT.”

Here are five tips to get patients to complete their pending treatment before their insurance expires.

Patient education

Your team should be trained to educate patients regarding the consequences of delaying treatment, as well as sharing the details of their dental insurance. Since dental issues never get better with time, we should encourage patients to complete treatment as soon as possible so they can avoid more painful, extensive, and expensive treatment. Therefore, when patients are escorted up front to check out, it’s important that the front desk is aware of each patient’s treatment plan, benefit details, and remaining annual maximum. Then they’ll be prepared to 1) have a conversation with patients regarding their insurance benefits and explain what happens when they do not use them, 2) explain what can happen when dental treatment is delayed, and 3) schedule an appointment.

Dental insurance: use it or lose it

Keep patients informed about the details of their dental insurance by sending a newsletter. This way you’re able to target your patient base on a large scale and educate them about the benefits of completing treatment as soon as possible, as well as encouraging them to use their benefits before they lose them. Most patients do not know anything about their dental insurance benefits and it becomes dental practices’ responsibility to let them know that if they don’t use them they will lose them.

FSA/HSA account: use it or lose it

A great way to encourage patients to complete pending treatment is to remind them that they can allocate their unused FSA benefits toward treatment in addition to their dental insurance benefits. Make your patients aware that if they don’t use their flex spending dollars that they will lose them, just like their dental insurance benefits. This is critical in getting patients to accept pending treatment plans.

Same day treatment

During your morning huddle, hone in on patients who have unused dental benefits and existing treatment plans. Make your patients aware of this and encourage them to stay. One way to get them to stay is to inform them that if they do the treatment now, it will not only save them an extra visit but will allow them to use their insurance benefits before they run out. Also, for those who have met their annual deductible and have more treatment to complete, let them know that this deductible will be applied to treatment next year because it will reset along with their benefits. Your patients will appreciate this information.

The time is now

For patients with extensive treatment plans, be ready to explain the benefits of having the treatment done this year. They will be able to apply the unused benefits and save more when they continue their treatments the following year. One way to locate those with large treatment plans is by using the treatment plan coordinatorin Dentrix. This willgenerate a list of patients who 1) have incomplete treatment, 2) do not have appointments scheduled, and 3) have unused dental benefits. Refer to the list to contact the patients directly by calling or sending an email or text.

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Helen B. Funk has been working as the office manager of Cosmopolitan Dental since its inception in 2006. As the primary patient liaison, Helen's goal is to accommodate the patients in a professional, knowledgeable, and personable manner. Helen is a graduate of Hunter College and attained her bachelor degree in psychology. She is currently enrolled in NYU and is working toward a certificate in leadership and organizational development. She is keen on ensuring that the office runs smoothly from the front desk, and she is also "behind the scenes." In her free time Helen enjoys writing, traveling, yoga, and exploring new restaurants in New York City.