Years ago, I wrote an article on direct operating costs, and how important they are when setting your fee-for-service fees – let alone evaluating your profitability with contracted insurance reimbursement fees. And we all know how most dentists simply hate to use the term “profits” when discussing their businesses. But the simple fact is this: Dentists and their teams often cannot grasp the concept that the patient is responsible to pay for more expensive products and services, whether insured or not.
This is a simple and “insurance verifiable” concept we’ve taught at My Practice My Business for years, yet it still eludes a large majority of doctors out there. When these dentists do think of charging a patient for “non-covered” value-added services, they often feel they are “nickel and dime-ing” their patient. Dentists have simply been trained to give their services away as a “courtesy” to their patients. Unbelievable. And what’s more, many of the offices we train tend to have younger team members who try to keep the dentists from giving away their services, AND older team members who typically love giving away services as a courtesy to their patients because they feel doing so promotes trust. Go figure.
Dentists have also been conditioned to feel that dental insurance is the only source of payment for any and all dental procedures on behalf of their patients. It simply is not. Dental insurance is not true insurance. It’s only a financial benefit where the patient is paying a monthly premium, which covers percentages of specified CDT Codes, with a built-in stop loss so that the dental insurance company will not lose money.
When it comes to “value-added” services provided by any dentist, the patient is responsible for those more expensive products and services – not the dental office, dentist, office manager, or anyone else. It’s the patient’s responsibility! Why is this business concept so difficult for dentists and their teams to understand?
Here are some real-life examples:
• An Office Manager, at a practice where I did an introductory course, said their doctor gives away services as a courtesy to their patients. Their patients trust their doctor. And he makes enough to do this. (So, apparently free dentistry promotes patient trust? I asked her to work for her dentist one day a week for free as a courtesy to them. That didn’t go over too well.)
• A dentist who doesn’t understand their “direct operating costs” and “costs of goods”. (But the lead dental assistant sure does as she’s been denied a raise for over four years!)
• A dentist who thinks she has no choice but to pay the difference on down-coded procedures. (Let me say this: it has never been the responsibility of the practice to write off that difference, regardless of what the EOB states.)
• My buddy who purchases high-end crowns for all of his patients and wonders why he produces so much, yet takes home less every year.
• My friend who, at 66 years of age, had an office manager lead him wrong for years by writing off everything. Fortunately, he comes to our training with his hygienist and dental assistant, who boost him up while he tearfully realizes how much money he has lost, where we show him a way to retire by age 72, with our key methods and services here at MPMB.
You should give your patients options and it should be their choice to use a more expensive products and services. When they choose the better options, they should pay for it, not you. No business I know of continually pays for “upgrades” for their customers where there is a differential in cost of goods. So why do dental professionals consistently do this in their businesses every day? The answer is simple: they don’t know what they don’t know. Or worse, they race to the bottom and only purchase the cheapest delivery of dentistry possible.
Yes, you can charge the patient directly, whether insured or not, for more expensive products and services. There are simple protocols that must be followed when doing so. At My Practice My Business, we teach dental teams what those protocols are. My Dental Docs, our document generation website, is the simple answer to upgrading. It also helps your team present your case presentations like never before, which increases your case acceptance dramatically.
Being profitable in dentistry is easy when you understand key business principles, which is what we specialize in at My Practice My Business. We are the only consulting company that guarantees your return on investment, or we don’t make a thing. Who else does that? Let us help you reclaim forgotten profitability in dentistry.
When you’re ready to take your business to a whole new level, whether you take PPO plans or not, we are here for you. I hope to see you at one of our training courses in the future. As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to give us a call. It will be the best dental business call you’ll make.
Rob Thorup, DDS
President and Clinical Director
My Practice My Business