How is your January 2018 TO-DO list coming along? In this day and age where many of your patients do not have dental benefits, you may be thinking this might be a good time to start an in-office dental plan where you can offer a membership type of program to help patients afford their much-needed preventative care. These types of membership plans are popping up in dentistry, chiropractic and vision offices. If you are thinking of creating an in-office membership plan for your non-covered dental patients on your own, make sure you abide by your state laws and have your practice attorney look over the plan before you roll it out.
Once you have all the details in place and you are ready to launch, there are some details in your Dentrix software that will need some setup. I would recommend creating a tip sheet for your office team on how the accounting and management of your in-office plan will work. The following recommendations are based on how other offices have set up their Dentrix software and are not considered legal advice. The goal is for you to create a system where you can manage your patient’s ledger effectively and be able to follow up with patients when their plans are about to expire.
- Create a new Billing Type definition for your families who sign up for your membership plan. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions and either create a new definition or edit one that you are not using. One thing to remember here is that a billing type is assigned to the entire family and is not patient-specific. Therefore, if you have a patient in the family not on the membership plan, this could cause some confusion.
- Since most of these in-office membership plans have a reduced fee schedule, my recommendation would be to create a separate fee schedule to attach to the patient so that the ledger will post the correct fee. This way, you will not have to use an adjustment. Go to the Office Manager > Reference > Fee Schedule Maintenance, then click on New, give your fee schedule a name and copy from your full office fee schedule. Then select your new fee schedule and click on View/Edit and you can reduce the fee schedule by a percentage that matches your plan details.
- Contrary to the dental insurance fee schedules, this in-office membership fee schedule will be attached to the patient’s family file located in the demographics section directly below the primary provider ID.
- Next, I would create a new continuing care type so that you can track when the patient is due for renewal. This new continuing care type would be set on a yearly interval and linked up to the new procedure code you will need to create in order to post the membership fee to the patient’s ledger. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Continuing Care Setup and then create a new type.
- Finally, you will create the procedure code for the in-office plan. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup and click on New. Fill in all the appropriate fields (description, ADA code, abbrev code), then make sure to attach the new continuing care type you just created, add a fee to the new fee schedule you created, make sure to check mark “do not bill to insurance” and, in the drop-down menu for treatment area, I would select “mouth” so it does not ask you for a tooth number.
Now you are ready to launch your new in-office membership dental plan for your non-insured patients and help those patients afford preventative care. This is a great value-added service for your patients and an awesome marketing tool.