Empowering dental EFT and ERA technology in the digital age

By Chris Haines, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

June 5, 2020 -- It may not be surprising to learn that, according to the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), only 86% of dental practices today are submitting claims electronically and only 13% are receiving electronic funds transfer (EFT) payments.

Insurance carriers started enforcing the EFT payment system in November of 2019, and many more carriers are rolling out EFT payment in 2020. This will almost certainly be a driver that will require practices to modernize their systems and business processes regarding EFT payments.

Chris Haines
Chris Haines.

The ADA agrees that there are advantages to electronic reimbursement, provided a dental practice has the technology in place to make it easy for all parties involved.

If practices didn't keep up with current notification of this new rollout, then they started receiving payments with a virtual credit card. Many practices didn't understand this since they had not requested payment that way.

The problem with virtual credit cards is that you get charged a fee for running that payment through your credit card machine. This has forced practices to call and request an alternate method of payment.

My advice is don't be fooled by companies that offer to enroll your practice for receiving EFTs and then find out later that you are charged a 1.99% fee for every EFT deposit you receive from any insurance carrier with whom they work. It does not cost a practice anything to register for EFTs unless they hire a consulting service to do so.

EFT standard and electronic remittance advice (ERA) technology has proven that practices of all sizes can achieve cost savings and benefits from converting their claim reimbursement payments from paper checks to EFT standard transactions and automating the reconciliation and posting process using the ERA.

Practices no longer need to wait for your explanation of benefits (EOB) to arrive in the mail. Once you enroll with ERA, you can access the information you need to reconcile your patient accounts as soon as it is available to you. Each ERA will have a trace number (TRN) attached and name of insurance company to give you the ability to automatically track the claim remittance information you receive from the clearinghouse. The TRN is designed to help providers confidently match EFT deposits with corresponding ERAs that are deposited in the bank account. Electronic transactions allow you to access payment information sooner than with a mailed paper EOB. This is huge for many practices. Administrative savings are realized as a result of the paperwork reduction and the ERA can be scanned into the patient file.

Benefits achieved across practices include the following:

  • Faster patient billing, as EFT payments are received faster, allowing for quicker secondary billing and billing of patient responsibility
  • Reduced posting errors through automation of EFT
  • Reduced processing costs
  • Improved payment cycle within two to seven days
  • Elimination of the threat of lost and stolen checks
  • Drastic reduction in the possibility of embezzlement in the practice

A new era in dentistry has begun. If dentists want to increase the cash flow coming out of their practice, they need to learn how to manage their businesses, or hire the right experienced professional to help them do so.

With 35 years of experience, the education, practice management, and clinical skills Chris Haines has learned allow her to provide a modernized insurance technology system to her consulting services. She is the founder of Dental WebSmart Insurance Solutions, providing implementation and training of EFT and ERA technology to successfully build and/or grow the dental practice's cash flow.

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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