5 Dreaded Words in a Dental Office

It’s always exciting to attract new patients to your dental office. After all, that drives our practice, right? You’ve put a lot of thought into creating an effective dental marketing campaign and training the staff on new patient protocol. With anticipation, the potential new patient calls. Everything is falling into place and you are confident in your preparation. The conversation goes something like this…

“Hi, my name is Cindy. My husband and I just moved to the area and are looking for a new dentist. Are you accepting new patients?”

“Hi Cindy, welcome to the area. Yes, we are accepting new patients and would love to be your dentist! How did you hear about us?”

“My neighbor is a patient at your office.”

“Oh, great, we love our patients and are always thankful when they refer folks to our office. Cindy, I have an opening next Tuesday at 8:00am. Would that work for you?”

“I think so. Oh, by the way, DO YOU TAKE MY INSURANCE?”

These are the 5 dreaded words that can bring a potential new patient call to a halt. But, it doesn’t have to. Here are a few key tips to remember when you are asked about dental insurance:

  • Gather information like HMO, PPO, and the insurance carrier’s name – Don’t ask more than 3 questions!
  • If it is a PPO and you are out-of-network, “We will assist you in filing your claims and maximizing your benefits.”
  • If it is an HMO and you are out-of-network, “We understand that not everyone is thrilled with their assigned dentist. If you would still like to visit our office I’d love to tell you about our new patient specials.”dental insurance

If the caller insists on understanding the world of dental insurance, you can begin with explaining how it works. When I encounter these type of questions, this is what I say:

“Dental insurance is opposite of medical insurance. Dental insurance is like a gift certificate of money for you to use however you wish. You will notice on your benefits breakdown that most of the time, you have the same benefit percentages whether you visit an out-of-network or in-network dentist. The standard coverage is 100% preventative, 80% basic restorative, and 50% major restorative. I will be glad to verify your benefits and if it differs from the standard, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Keep in mind that those percentages are based off of the insurance carriers fee schedule, not the dentist’s fee schedule. If the potential patient wants to know down to the penny how much they will have to pay out of pocket, don’t deceive them that those percentages are covered regardless of the difference in fees. This is where it gets tricky because every practice has their own philosophy on this. Some dentists write off the difference and some dentists bill the patient for any amount insurance did not cover.

Dentists should never allow insurance to drive patient care. That is why it is important not to ask the potential new patient about insurance if they don’t ask. You don’t want them to think that insurance is an important factor. While we definitely don’t want the patient to pay for something out of pocket if it is avoidable, we don’t want to allow insurance to dictate a patient’s dental care.


About the Author…

Tracy Civick is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, and author who focuses on motivating dental front office teams to grow practice revenue and get a better handle on the daily dental practice front office tasks.  Her memberships include The Academy of Dental Management Consultants and AADOM, Academy of Dental Office Managers.

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