If patients can’t pay in full at the time of treatment, and third-party financing isn’t an option, a payment agreement may be the solution.
Collecting payment is often difficult even in good economic times. Fortunately, you have some choices when it comes to ensuring that you are paid for the services you provide.
If your practice is typical, according to the ADA approximately 50 percent of your revenue comes from insurance payments. To collect the remaining 50 percent, more and more dentists accept credit card payments or rely on patient financing agreements. Ideally, you want to collect your fees before or by the time treatment is completed. When that’s not possible, consider setting up a recurring credit card payment with Dentrix Pay.
Occasionally you may have patients who need other payment options. If this is the case, you may want to set up a payment agreement. A payment agreement is a powerful Dentrix tool designed to help you and your patients. However, if you choose to set up a payment agreement, consider limiting the number of accounts you agree to finance and only finance those patients you’re sure can meet the terms of the payment agreement. You are neither a bank nor a charitable institution. And, while Dentrix makes tracking payment agreements easy, you may not have the staff, the time, or the expertise to provide and administer payment agreements with a large percentage of your patients.
You can also use payment agreements to help your patients finance procedures that are only partially covered or not covered at all by their insurance plans. For instance, you may have a patient who chooses to have an implant instead of a bridge. With a payment agreement in place, you can help your patient finance the costs related to the implant that his or her insurance won’t cover. And, Dentrix allows you to set the terms of the payment agreement, including finance charges, interest rates, late charges, and grace periods. You can determine how flexible the terms should be on a patient-by-patient basis.
Setting Up A Payment Agreement
The first step in setting up a payment agreement is to open the Ledger and select a patient. From the Ledger toolbar, click the Billing/Payment Agreement button. The Billing/Payment Agreement Information dialog box appears.
Enter an agreement date (by default the current date is displayed). If you have already set up payment agreement templates that include the agreement terms you want to use, click Agreement Templates and select the one you want to use.
If you haven’t set up a template, select a payment interval: Monthly, Semi-monthly, Bi-weekly, or Weekly. In the Total Agreed Amount field, enter the amount that the guarantor will pay off under the agreement. This can be the entire balance or a partial amount. Enter the date the first payment is due in the First Pmt Due field. Next, you can set up the recurring payment by either entering the Payment Amt or the Total # of Payments. Dentrix then calculates the other field for you.
Enter the other payment agreement terms, like the annual finance charge. Select whether you want to charge late charges on this agreement, and if so, enter the late charge information.
If you want, you can copy the agreement to a payment agreement note to document all of the payment arrangements that you have established over the history of the account.
Manage Payments with the Payment Agreement Manager
The Payment Agreement Manager shows you every payment agreement your office has entered into with patients. From the Payment Agreement Manager, you can enter payments without going through the Ledger, and you can sort and filter payment agreements. Read “See All Your Payment Agreements in Once Place” for more information.
Collecting payment from patients can be difficult, but that difficulty can be lessened by using the tools Dentrix provides you. A payment agreement likely shouldn’t be your default choice, but it can be a very powerful and helpful tool for you and a few select patients.
To learn more about the Payment Agreement Manager, watch the feature overview video or read “See all Your Patient Payment Agreements in One Place.”
See the Setting up payment agreements topic in the Dentrix Help to learn more about setting up agreements.
Visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/eservices/dentrixpay or watch the Dentrix Pay Quick Start videos for more information about saving credit cards on file in Dentrix.
By Gary Frazier, Associate Editor
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2011