Shortly after the first of the year, Suzy went for her dental hygiene appointment. Her insurance carrier had just changed and she had planned on checking to see if her current dentist was covered under the new plan, but she got busy and forgot. As soon as Suzy walked up to the front desk for her appointment, she realized that she forgot to check on the benefits of her new insurance. She asked Mary at the front desk if the dentist was in-network for the new insurance policy. Mary responded that she didn't know, but didn't offer to call her insurance company to find out.
Suzy said her first reaction was to leave and reschedule for another day after she checked her insurance benefits. She said she didn’t want to be stuck paying for the full amount if her insurance didn’t cover this dentist. Suzy said that Mary asked someone else in the practice if they were aware of this insurance, and then she asked the dentist. Mary finally said to Suzy, “Yeah, I think you should be fine.” Suzy stayed for the appointment, but she said was uneasy about it. She was laying in the chair thinking of her financial situation and how she hadn’t planned on paying for this appointment.
A few days later Suzy brought her two kids to the same dental practice for their 6-month appointment. As they were leaving Mary asked Suzy, “Does your insurance have a co-pay?” Suzy hadn’t really look into the details of her insurance, since at her last visit Mary said she thought she would be fine. Suzy said to me, “I was a little shocked that they would ask me about my insurance, aren’t they supposed to know?!”
Patients have an expectation that the dental office is going to know what their plan covers. When the bill comes back higher than the patient expects, it is the dental practice that they are going to be unhappy with, not the insurance company or themselves. Right or wrong, is not the issue. The question is how can we, as dental office team members, continually exceed our patient’s expectations?