Dental billing is a highly complex process. Knowing how to handle the dental billing process hence becomes a necessity when it comes to ensuring timely cash flow and avoiding errors. Failing to do so can lead to problems for the practice as well as its patients. But there exist quite a many myths around the dental billing process that lead to expensive mistakes on the part of dental practices. By busting these common myths, dental practices can empower themselves to use an efficient dental billing process to aid their dental practice in collecting more and bring a clean and efficient billing process into practice. Here is a curated list of common myths that might be preventing your practice from functioning at its full potential.
- Dental billing merely involves the process of submitting claims.
Submitting claims, without a doubt, is a large part of the dental billing process. But it is not limited to just that alone. There are many sub-functions in the billing process that are of equal importance. For instance, eligibility and benefits verification along with calculation and collection of copayments prior to administering treatments is a very important step in the dental billing process. This ensures a practice receives the collectibles from the patients, well in advance, as following up later for payments is a more tedious process.
- Dental billing is a simple job.
This is a very popular misconception. But before jumping to any conclusions, one must always question why most patients find it difficult to understand their own insurance plans and why most dental practices opt to outsource their revenue cycle management. Dental billing is a very complicated and time-consuming job that calls for a lot of up-to-date knowledge and accountability while performing each process. There are a lot of rules, regulations, and updates that a practice needs to keep up with, which is very time-consuming for the dental practice.
- Dental practices cannot bill medical insurance providers.
Patients generally have separate insurance plans to cover their dental and medical treatments. However, there are instances where certain dental procedures can be covered by a patient’s medical insurance. These are generally limited to treatments that are deemed medically necessary prior to performing a dental procedure. Although at first, procedures for accurately billing a medical insurance provider as a dentist may seem very different and complicated from billing a dental insurance provider. But in reality, no additional qualifications are required for this. The only prerequisite for performing such treatments is to be licensed and have a sufficient understanding of the medical billing and coding process. It is also a good idea to outsource the billing process from a third party that is experienced in both kinds of billing processes.
- Outsourcing dental billing does not go a long way.
This is yet another popular misconception that is still persistent in many dental practices preventing them from opting for outsourcing as a long-term solution for their billing needs. While many still believe that outsourcing dental billing may not be the best solution for their practice, the truth is quite contrary to this. Fundamentally, outsourcing is hiring professionals whose sole job is to collect money for a practice, which can help a practice go a long way by taking a huge chunk of responsibilities off their shoulders. This allows a practice to focus on its primary responsibility; treating its patients.
- Outsourcing is more expensive than hiring new staff.
While hiring a billing company to outsource your dental billing process may seem to be more expensive in comparison to simply hiring more staff to do the same, but in hindsight, hiring billing experts over amateurs who need to be trained for the specific task, makes more sense financially. It is wishful thinking to believe that an individual can be hired and trained to efficiently handle large volumes of insurance claims in a short time span. Moreover, errors in the process can increase overhead costs as fixing these is a time-consuming task for the practice.
- Administration teams are left with zero responsibilities once dental billing is outsourced.
It is quite important to understand that the billing company, hired by the practice, is not here to take over anyone’s job or responsibilities. It should be considered as an extension to rather than a replacement of any team in a practice. In fact, it is very important for billing companies to work with the administration team of the dental practice to carry out the process in a more seamless manner.
- Outsourcing dental billing is a short-term fix.
While outsourcing a dental practice’s billing can yield quick results, outsourcing can also prove to be a healthy long-term solution for any practice. Most dental practices start outsourcing for their billing needs during times of heavy work volumes, shortage of staff, or simply because of not having access to the latest technology. They often fail to realize the prospects of outsourcing as a full-time solution. Outsourcing can help a dental practice in the following aspects:
- Saving additional costs incurred on staffing, training, and technology
- Saving time and resources on prospecting qualified billing staff.
- Increasing the timely cash flow into the practice by cross-checking claims for accuracy before the final submission.
- It is acceptable to not be able to collect 100% of the insurance claims:
It is a common misconception in dental practices that it is next to impossible to collect every single dental claim and there are going to be write-offs no matter what. But in reality, this is a question that must be raised among the practice staff. It is the dental’s team’s responsibility to collect what is owed to the practice. The only write-offs allowed should be correct PPO adjustments. An outsourced billing company can help a practice collect almost every single one of those claims, which the dental practice staff may not always have the time for.
While dental billing is a challenging job in itself, myths should not come in the way and make it worse. We have been able to see so many myths revolving around dental billing and come across many more on a frequent basis. Having a better understanding of these myths and debunking them, can help you get a better grip on the opportunities that you are otherwise missing out on, all for the benefit of your practice. Once this solid foundation based on facts is established and honest expectations are set – the practice is sure to observe positive results.