5 practical ways to win at the insurance game

2016 11 22 11 06 25 633 Levin Roger 400

Dr. Roger P. Levin brings you the most thought-provoking topics from the Dental Business Study Clubs, an organization focused on the business of successful dentistry. Each month, Dr. Levin will explore an aspect of the business of dentistry in detail.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the executive founder of the Dental Business Study Clubs.Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the executive founder of the Dental Business Study Clubs.

Dental insurance has presented dental practices with a host of challenges since its inception. Patients often don't understand their benefits, and they either think that they are receiving more coverage than they actually have or don't take advantage of the coverage that they do have.

And while dwindling reimbursement levels make dentists want to abandon insurance altogether, they must participate or face losing patients. It's no wonder that dentists have a negative view of dental insurance. However, as the old saying goes, "You can't live with it and can't live without it."

So, if you've been avoiding dental insurance or putting it on the back burner, it's time to take a more active role in managing it for you and your patients.

5 ways to win

For dentists to best maximize their success, they must think of dental insurance as an integral part of their practice and learn how to use it to their best advantage. Here are five ways you can maximize your success with dental insurance:

1. Read your contracts

Each insurance plan has different policies, protocols, and parameters. Make sure you understand what you have enrolled in and what your termination clauses are. Each year you should evaluate the worst reimbursing insurance plans and determine if you can afford to drop them. At the same time, it's important to continue to build your fee-for-service patient base to counteract some of the worst-paying plans.

2. Remind patients about unused insurance balances

Each year you have tens of thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars of incomplete treatment on patients who have insurance coverage. Every fall, you should contact these patients and explain to them how much they're going to lose in dollars at the end of the year if they don't complete their treatment.

A simple script such as "Mrs. Jones, you have $500 remaining with your insurance company that you'll lose at year's end if it isn't used. We should get you scheduled to finish your treatment." Many practices increase annual production by $60,000 or more using this technique.

3. Remind patients about their annual insurance benefits renewal

“It's possible to negotiate with an insurance company.”

Understandably, many patients will not complete treatment until their insurance benefits renew. Don't forget about them. You should contact them every January to inform them that they now have new benefits and should finish their treatment.

A simple script such as "Mrs. Jones, I have wonderful news. Your insurance company is now allowing you to use up to $1,000 of your benefits. This will allow you to complete your treatment and maintain optimal oral health."

4. Seek insurance patient referrals

Many insurance patients work, eat, play, and otherwise interact with many people that have the same insurance. So it makes perfect sense to build a strong referral marketing campaign among your insurance patient that encourages them to refer others. Be sure it includes messaging that lets everyone know that you proudly participate with their insurance plan.

Too many offices have a negative view of insurance and never think about marketing to increase referrals of these patients. However, a practice model with both fee-for-service patients and different levels of insurance patients is common and extremely viable.

5. Regularly analyze your plan reimbursements

At times it's possible to negotiate with an insurance company. Have a professional organization analyze your insurance situation and make recommendations or ensure that you're using the proper coding. Believe it or not, many practices are actually being underreimbursed for procedures simply because of improper coding.

Win with dental insurance

According to the Levin Group Data Center, 89% of practices now participate with at least one plan. So whether dentists like or not, dental insurance is a large part of dentistry and it's here to stay. Want to win with dental insurance? Don't run from it. Embrace it and take these steps to help you manage the insurance process for maximum success.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the executive founder of the Dental Business Study Clubs.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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