Ultimate Guide to Outsourcing Your Dental Billing

What’s it like to outsource your dental practice’s billing?

Read this guide to learn: 

  • The purpose of a dental billing company
  • The pros and cons of outsourced vs in-house dental billing 
  • What outsourcing your dental billing is really like
  • How to find the right billing company to meet your needs

After you read this guide, you’ll know for sure if outsourced dental billing is right for you. 

If it is, you’ll have what you need to start outsourcing your dental billing now! 

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Ultimate Guide to Outsourcing Your Dental Billing

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Part 1: What is outsourced dental billing?

Outsourced dental billing means contracting your dental insurance services to an outside agency. 

When you sign on with a dental billing company, your offices will be assigned an expert (or experts depending on the size of your practice) who works on your insurance billing every day. Your biller will get to know the team and your current billing process, looking to where improvements can be made. Your team has the opportunity to develop a warm working relationship with this vital new “team member.”

Traditionally, these tasks have been handled by in-house dental team members. Outsourcing allows businesses to cut costs of labor and training. The dental office would not have to pay per hour or pay for specific training for staff members.

Whether your office is PPO dependent or fee for service, insurance billing tasks provide quality service to your patients and cash flow to the practice. 

These essential dental billing tasks obligate dental offices to hire full-time staff, part-time staff, or extend the dental billing workload to other team members. 

Have you always handled dental insurance in-house?  

You may be just beginning to explore the option of outsourced dental billing. Many dentists and office managers seek outsourcing services due to employee turnover, collections are decreasing, or in-house training is not available.

If you’re learning about outsourced dental billing, you might be curious about what services can be outsourced.

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These are the most common services that dental billing companies include: 

  • Appeal denied claims
  • Insurance aging report follow up
  • Sending claims (through a clearinghouse)
  • Posting insurance payments
  • Posting insurance EFT payments
  • Posting insurance Virtual Credit Card payments 
  • Applying PPO adjustments and write-offs
  • Submission of secondary claims
  • Attachments with electronic claims
  • Mailing claims, when applicable
  • Daily and weekly communication
  • Fee schedules input
  • Reporting

As part of the administrative team, you still remain front and center in your practice, and will continue to handle the following tasks:

  • Check-in your patients
  • Schedule appointments 
  • Answer phone calls 
  • Stay on top of co-pays
  • Collect the payments patients are responsible for
  • Present treatment
  • Office Marketing 
  • Patient Experience

You’ll still need to check that your daily procedures are coded correctly and that the information on record matches the work that was actually performed in your office that day. 

You'll still need to verify coverage and communicate costs and insurance coverage with patients. 

Running an office is a full-time job, and taking care of a dental office requires multiple people, all helping one another.

Why do dental practices outsource their dental billing?

When exploring the option of outsourcing, you may think, “Why do other dental practices outsource?” Understanding why your colleagues are making this leap can be helpful and include reasons you might consider outsourcing for your own practice as well. 

Seeing why people like you outsource their dental billing can make you feel as though you aren’t alone in your insurance concerns. This can empower you to take action and plan your own strategy to handle insurance billing.

Here are the top 10 most popular reasons dental practices outsource their dental billing

  1. You have a high insurance aging report or low collections percentage
  2. You’re experiencing staffing issues at the dental practice
  3. Your office manager is too busy to handle billing
  4. You’re exploring your options when it comes to dental billing
  5. Your insurance billing process is taking too long
  6. You need help resolving problem claims
  7. You see inaccurate claims and posting in your dental office
  8. You need help getting your dental practice credentialed
  9. You need help understanding the entire dental billing process
  10. You’re a brand new dental office

If you see your practice in any of these reasons for outsourcing, read on.

Part 2: Outsourcing vs in-house billing: pros and cons

Trying to choose between hiring an experienced in-house dental biller (or insurance coordinator) or an outsourced dental billing company?

They’re different solutions with (hopefully) the same outcomes. 

In the past, you may have turned to your office manager or someone else on your administrative team. But maybe you’re not getting the results you want. 

This is a common crossroads for dentists. It’s likely that your dental team doesn't have the time or expertise to devote to your insurance claims. 

And that’s not anyone’s fault — but something needs to change. 

There are two solutions: 

  • Hiring a seasoned insurance coordinator to join your internal administrative team
  • Outsourcing to a dental billing company and having a remote biller work alongside your team to get your insurance claims paid

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of both choices

Hiring an in-house billing team at your dental practice

An in-house biller is a big financial commitment for your practice. It may seem like a huge undertaking to add another full-time salary with benefits to your overhead. Hopefully, you’re getting what you pay for. Why would you want to hire an in-house team? 

In-house billers: Pros

  • An in-house biller is there in person to answer questions or concerns. Do you or someone else on your dental team have a question about a patient’s coverage? An in-house insurance biller is on site. You can pop your head into their office, or walk over to their desk to chat with them if you need to. You don’t have to wait long for an answer or response from your in-house biller because they’re right there with you in person.
  • You maintain the feeling of control over your insurance billing. An in-house biller is one of your employees. You or your office manager can still feel in control of your billing process when you hire your own insurance coordinator. A dental billing company doesn’t take control away from your team, but it’s a common feeling we’ve seen in-house team members have at first, which we’ll cover below.
  • Your in-house biller feels like part of your team. When you keep the billing in-house, it feels like you’re cultivating a team, where everyone is after the same goal. It’s easier to trust someone that you are creating a friendship with because you see them every day. You can see how they work, what their habits are, and you can collaborate easily. This can create a great employee dynamic within your office. 

In-house billers: Cons

  • It’s expensive. An insurance coordinator’s salary can range anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 annually, not including a benefits package if that’s something you offer. Any bonuses you give to employees add to your expenses. This isn’t a position you can fill with just anyone who will accept minimum wage. You need someone with professional experience. Experienced insurance coordinators can cost about 62% more than outsourcing this function.
  • There is less flexibility when it comes to a “trial” period. Since you’re hiring a full-time employee, you’re trusting they know how to perform this job. It happens more often than you think that dentists hire someone who doesn’t know how to post payments accurately, work with adjustments, research claims, and appeal claim denials. You can’t always trust a resumé. You need to assess their skills before you hire them. 
  • In-house billers don’t have access to a pool of other expert billing professionals. It’s likely your in-house insurance coordinator works on your insurance billing alone. If they have a question or need assistance, chances are no one else in the office knows how to do their job. If they’re out of town or have an emergency, insurance billing is put on the back burner until they return. 

Now that you understand the pros and cons of hiring an in-house insurance coordinator, here’s what to consider when hiring an outsourced dental billing company. 

Outsourced dental billing

Hiring an outsourced dental billing company at your dental practice

Outsourcing to a dental billing company gives dentists access to a pool of experts who consistently submit claims and follow through with each one until they are paid. 

Outsourced dental billing: Pros

  • They handle the insurance billing so your team doesn’t have to. A lot of people dread working with insurance claims and dealing with insurance companies. Outsourced dental billing companies, of course, don’t hate it. They will handle the nitty-gritty of working the outstanding claims aging report, researching denied claims, and waiting on hold to appeal them while your team focuses on other important tasks in your office.
  • Outsourcing your insurance billing is the least expensive option. People are always shocked when they hear this, but it’s true! Most dental billing companies bill dental offices based on the practice size and revenue. The monthly rate ranges from $1,300 to $5,000 per month. As we mentioned, an insurance coordinator with proper experience is going to cost around $5,000 per month, minimum. And that’s if you only need one insurance coordinator (if you run a big practice, you may need more).
  • Outsourced remote billers have a pool of experts at their disposal. We can’t speak for every dental billing company, but our remote billers all communicate with one another even if they’re working with different offices. If anyone has a question, there’s a huge pool of other billing experts they can turn to for answers or best practices. This knowledge pool better equips them to face any claim challenge your dental practice could be facing. 

Outsourced dental billing: Cons

  • Outsourcing might be a tough transition for your dental team if they aren’t on board. We have seen team members — like office managers and other administrative team members — resist working with a dental billing company. Whether it’s a feeling of lost control or a “stranger in their house,” it can be a hard transition to hand over the insurance billing to a person you don’t know.
  • Consistent communication is involved. This doesn’t really sound like a con, but it can be for those who are used to their billing person being around the corner. Your outsourced biller will be working remotely in your dental software, and this means if there are questions or concerns, you will have to call or email them. Communication doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but it’s required to work with a remote biller.
  • You are handing your insurance billing over to someone outside the office. Like we said, the outsourced biller will work remotely in your dental software. You’ll likely never meet them except on Zoom. This can be a huge challenge for some offices because it requires the team to trust the process and the person they’re handing the billing over to. It can feel like a loss of control to some teams. However, getting fast, accurate insurance payments helps you bring all your revenue streams under control. Patient billing becomes crystal clear and instead of a loss of control, you quickly realize that you’re more in control than ever before.

When it comes to outsourcing your insurance billing, you do have to properly communicate to your team why you’re making the change. This will prevent team members from feeling stepped on by the remote biller who is truly there to lessen the chaos that comes with insurance billing. 

The best choice? The one that’s most profitable and that will optimize the financial health of your practice. 

Part 3: How much does an outsourced dental billing company cost?

Let’s get specific! How much is outsourced dental billing? 

The average cost for outsourced dental billing is about $1,500-$1,600 per month. Let’s multiply this by 12 months to get your annual expense. 

Here is the math:

$1,600 x 12 = $19,200 average annual fee for an outsourced dental billing company. 

Factors that affect cost:

1. Insurance revenue. Most outsourced dental billing companies charge based on your insurance collections only. The billing companies will take care of your insurance accounts receivables only for the included fee. Patient AR is an additional service provided by only some dental billing companies. Since it’s a stand-alone service, it will typically add to your monthly cost.

2. The size of your practice. Some practices have one doctor, while others have multiple providers. The number of providers rendering services dictates the collections. Most dental billing companies charge based on how much you are collecting from insurance on a monthly basis. These are the different tiers of insurance collections that we use to determine the cost of outsourcing:

  • Under $40k
  • Between $40k-$100k
  • Between $100k-$150k
  • Between $150-$200k
  • Over $200k

3. Startup location and new practice cost structure. Without knowing your projected production and collection levels prior to opening, many startups will be considered under a “Startup Pricing”. Startups require initial setup of the software, which would include setups for the providers, claims, and fees. For a single doctor startup, this may be a flat fee ranging from $750-$1300 per month for a set period of time, typically 3-5 months once patients have been seen and claims have started to be sent.

4. Multi-location dental practices. If you have multiple locations, this may affect different pricing based on the number of locations and the production and collection levels of each practice combined.  In most cases, those locations would be combined for billing purposes.  However, there are circumstances where different offices could be billed separately. For a conservative estimate, add the monthly insurance collections from each practice and see the pricing schedule above.

Additional Fees

1. Set-up cost. Set up fees range from $200-$999. Set up costs vary by company and may include IT services to install software on equipment furnished by the outsourced dental billing company. Set up fees include the warranty and shipping on computer equipment and team training.

2. Stamps costs. Stamp costs range from $0.50-$0.75 per item. Most companies charge a standard rate for each stamp used when mailing claims or sending a statement is necessary.

3. PPO fee schedule entering. Fee Schedule entering ranges from $100-$200. 

4. Medical billing. Medical billing for dentists may be billed per claim sent up to $50-$75. Some companies charge the percentage on the production number and some will bill the percentage on the collected amount.

5. EFT reconciliation. Monthly EFT Reconciliation ranges from $150-$300.

Add-on Services

1. Credentialing. Credentialing services may be necessary to ensure proper timely payment is received. Credentialing one provider with one insurance will cost between $200-$500. Credentialing fees can vary depending on the number of providers and payer requirements. The more PPOs you will be in-network with, the less you will pay per insurance.

2. PPO fee negotiations. PPO Fee Negotiations are often one flat fee per insurance or umbrella network. These can range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands based on the network PPO Fees are negotiated. Some insurance companies will not negotiate or be part of a larger umbrella network (i.e. Delta Dental). For more information on umbrella networks, please refer to the Credentialing article.

3. Insurance verification. Insurance Verification pricing can be hourly or per claim. The different levels of insurance verification can affect price. Those levels may include:

1. Eligibility

2. Standard Breakdown

3. Full Breakdown

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Additional fees may include scanning into a patient chart as well as data entry into the software for treatment plan calculation purposes.
 
4. Patient collections. Patient Collections may be charged per patient/family, collection percentage, or by size of your practice. The fees vary between around $10-$12 per patient, 3-5% of collections, or even $500-$1400/month based on practice size.
 

Now that you know what the cost of outsourcing is, how does it compare to hiring an in-house biller or insurance coordinator? 

Cost comparison: Outsourced dental billing vs. In-house dental billing

Time for a detailed comparison of the costs of outsourced dental billing and the alternative you have with insourcing. Let’s assume that both outsourcing and in-house dental billing would produce the exact same results for your insurance revenues.  

How much does a dental insurance coordinator cost?

According to a 2020 Ziprecruiter article, a dental office insurance coordinator (in-house) salary average is $18.26 per hour. An insurance coordinator earning $18.26 per hour will actually cost you between $47,476 and $53,173 per year in salary. 

In-house W2 employees also have overhead costs above and beyond their hourly or salary rate. W2 employees for any business cost on average 1.25 to 1.4 times base salary range. This extra compensation includes employer taxes such as social security, federal and state unemployment, Medicare, workers’ comp insurance, payroll costs, as well as any benefits you may offer.  

This means you can expect the total compensation for one of these employees to be 25% to 40% higher than their base salary. At $18.26 per hour, your average dental insurance coordinator costs your practice $50,325 in annual salary, which includes the benefits and employer taxes. Any bonuses given to W2 employees would be added to this calculation.

What's the difference between the cost of an insurance coordinator and an outsourced dental billing company?

So as you know from above, the average cost for outsourced dental billing is about $1,500-$1,600 per month. 

$1,600 x 12 = $19,200 average annual fee for an outsourced dental billing company. 

~ $50,000 for an insurance coordinator 

- $19,200 for a dental billing company 

= $30,800. 

That $30,800 per year that you save on your insurance billing — a huge annual difference. 

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Part 4: How long do you work with an outsourced dental billing company?

Let’s say working with a dental billing company has raised your collection rate and has been worth your time and money. Great! 

You may wonder, “How long am I supposed to work with this billing company?” 

Is this supposed to be a 6-month or year-long process to fix your dental practice’s low collections and high aging report? What happens once you’re seeing results?

We believe you should work with a dental billing company as long as you want a clean, reliable billing system that keeps collecting from your insurance claims in the most efficient way.  

A dental billing company is not a short-term helper to fix low collections and a high aging report

Once you’ve spent a few months working with the billing company, and begin to see your collections increase and your aging report decrease, you might think, “We’re fixed!” 

It’s true: Your dental office should be in a healthier place financially once you spend a few months working with a dental billing company. 

However, this isn’t simply a staffing issue. Dental billers pay consistent attention to the ever-changing reasons for denials. They bring fresh coding knowledge and strategies to your billing system every day, with consistent attention to your insurance billing. Professional billers update each other every time insurance companies try new denial tactics. 

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What do you think will happen if you lose access to that?

Without an immediate, experienced replacement, your insurance billing is going to go right back to where it was. 

Switching back to in-house insurance billing can increase overhead

If you’re going to go back to in-house billing, you’ll need to replace your outsourced biller immediately. This task can’t sit on the back burner while you take your time trying to hire an insurance coordinator. This should be in place before you let go of your billing company. 

If you do start to think about letting go of your outsourced biller, have a backup plan for your insurance billing. 

Outsourced dental billing is a continuous, long-term service. Don’t switch to in-house insurance billing until you have an experienced and vetted replacement ready to take on the task.

Part 5: What are some problems with outsourced dental billing?

Problems can occur when you outsource your dental billing. The problems usually occur when a dental office outsources for the first time. 

Any new venture brings its own set of problems and challenges. The good news is that there are solutions for every challenge.

Here are a few common problems dental offices encounter when they outsource their dental billing.

Challenge #1: There is a normal adjustment period

We completely understand that you don’t quite know what to expect of the working relationship with your new outsource dental billing team. 

Outsourcing is expected to help your dental practice, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see all the benefits right away. 

Many dental offices that employ an outsourced dental billing company have the expectation that most to all responsibilities can be lifted from their admin team. In most cases, this isn’t true. 

You will still need some sort of in-house admin team.

Most dental billing companies take over after claims have been created and batched. Meaning they perform tasks related to dental claims being sent, posted, and researched. 

However, your in-house dental team is still required to make appointments, perform insurance verifications, collect from patients, etc. 

Overcome this challenge: Explain the purpose of outsourcing dental billing and give your team time to adapt

Your team needs time to figure out how they’re going to work with the dental billing team

Expect a learning curve as your team gets to know the dental billing company and makes room for it.

When the office leader or dentist can effectively explain the purpose of outsourcing dental billing, the adjustment period is much shorter. 

Challenge #2: Communication difficulties

Once your team gets through the adjustment period of being introduced to a dental billing company, the next challenge is likely getting used to the communication involved. 

Everyone communicates differently, and figuring out how to do so with a new person can be a challenge. 

We’ve seen some offices really struggle to work with an outsourced biller if communication is difficult. It’s an extra step and an extra person to include in their billing process — one they were used to handling themselves. 

Smooth communication takes two! If your outsourced dental biller is difficult to communicate with … do something about it! 

Overcome this challenge: Prioritize communication with your remote biller

Sometimes it’s easy to forget someone who isn’t physically in your office. Encourage your team to build a relationship with the outsourced billing company like they are sitting in the same office. 

The best working relationships have cohesion that comes from working together to achieve a common goal. 

Whether you communicate via text, call, email, or video chat, the administrative team and the biller can choose the best line of communication and frequency for both teams.

Challenge #3: Working collaboratively

We’ve seen offices shut out the remote biller because they feel territorial about the insurance billing work. This just loses the dental practice money — and time. 

The biller is just as incentivized as you to get claims paid — they are typically paid based on how many payments they post! 

Think of your remote biller as working the back end of the business while you work the front end. You deal with patients, the biller deals with insurance. 

Together you’re going to increase your collections through an organized and regimented billing process.

Overcome this challenge: Trust the expertise of the remote biller and think of them as an extension of your team

There may be some confusion when it comes to decision-making. This is solved when both parties understand the contract agreement. Some authority may have passed to the outsourced dental billing company, and some may have stayed in-house. 

Simply understanding “who does what” will decrease friction and create clarity.

The biller’s expertise is invaluable. Whoever previously handled the insurance billing also juggled patient billing, scheduling, and countless office duties. By contrast, this biller is laser-focused on insurance billing. 

Most billers have years of experience and continuous training on insurance billing. It’s a dense and complicated topic that requires experience. 

The remote biller also has a pool of other experts to turn to for questions and advice and will fight to get your claims paid. 

Part 6: Am I a good fit for outsourced dental billing?

There are plenty of dental offices that need outsourced dental billing, and some that might not be a good fit for this service. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are a few challenges that come with outsourcing that your office might not be prepared to handle. 

So, how do you figure this out? 

Watch for these signs — they’ll help you decide. 

Signs you need outsourced dental billing

These signs will help you know if outsourcing your insurance billing will elevate your current billing process.

1. You're starting a dental practice from the ground up

You might be thinking, “If I’m just getting started with a newly purchased dental practice, shouldn’t I get everything else in order before I start outsourcing my billing?”

Of course, there are logistical things you need to get in order. You need staff, equipment, a tax ID number, and a bank account. However, an efficient billing process should also be one of the first things you figure out. After all, for many independent dentists, insurance revenue is the primary revenue source. 

It’s never too early to find experts to help you establish a streamlined billing system.

We see practices come to us with messy aging reports and low collections as top problems to solve. Lucky for you, if you’re starting from scratch, you have a clean slate. You could approach a dental billing company before you have thousands in outstanding claims to collect. 

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2. Your dental insurance collection rate is below 98% and aging report is high

If your reports show either of these red flags, you have a great opportunity to improve the numbers through outsourcing. 

  • A low collection rate = less than 98% of insurance claims are paid 
  • A high aging report = unpaid claims over 30 days makes up over 10% of your aging report

If you keep seeing denied insurance claims and don’t always have time to work through the aging report, these signs mean your billing process is actually costing you earned income and you need to do something about it.

3. Your write-offs are high

The longer insurance claims aren’t paid, the more likely they’ll never be paid. This forces your practice to write off what you can’t collect, and your revenue takes a hit. 

If you’re beginning to notice more and more write-offs in your dental software, it’s time to consider a change. Why aren’t you able to collect money from claims? The truth is probably that claims have been denied, and appealing denied claims takes time and expertise that you don’t currently have. 

You have fewer write-offs when your appeals process is thorough. Appealing denied insurance claims means calling the insurance company, figuring out why a denial happened, and deciding how to fix it. This is something outsourced dental billing companies are experts in. 

Remote billers know the appeals game like the back of their hand, and they know the tricks and strategies to have claims reimbursed by insurance companies. 

They also have the time to get this work done so that you don’t have to keep writing off what you’re owed. 

4. You're having issues with your dental staff

If someone is struggling to keep up with insurance billing because they have other responsibilities in the office, that is an opportune time to explore outsourcing. Dental insurance billing is a difficult job, and if you can’t put your full attention on it, you'll make mistakes. 

When you send the mundane, frustrating work of insurance billing to remote experts, you free your desk staff to focus on patient check-in, scheduling, answering phones, verifying insurance, patient billing, and even growing your practice.

From an outside perspective, a dental billing company can see things your dental team might not notice or tell you. 

These things could range from how they handle patient billing to if a staff member is exhibiting some sketchy behavior. Unfortunately, dental billing is a target for embezzlement because small amounts of money are relatively easy to take without being noticed.

If your staff isn’t handling certain parts of the billing process well, the remote billers will be able to notice even though they aren’t in the office. It will show up through claim mistakes and denials that your billers will work to appeal. 

5. You are seeing patients drop off

If you’re seeing an increase in the number of patients leaving your practice, you not only need to take a look at your current administrative team but also look into outsourcing. 

A billing company ideally handles insurance billing so you have accurate numbers to handle patient billing. 

Dental ClaimSupport specifically, does not handle patient billing. How your patient billing is handled directly affects how your insurance billing is handled. If incorrect information is collected from patients, and inaccurate claims are sent, they’re going to be denied. 

You might mistakenly send your patient an extra bill in the mail. This makes for an unhappy patient.

If you’re seeing patient collections decrease, it might be because patient billing and insurance verification aren’t being handled efficiently. A dental billing company can guide you to handle insurance verification in-house. Keeping verification in-house leads to fewer claim denials, happier patients, and more money for your practice. 

Outsourced dental billing

Signs you are not a good fit for outsourced dental billing

Working with a dental billing company requires your team to be open to change, to prioritize communication, and to welcome the opportunity to improve revenue and lower costs with remote helpers. 

As the dentist, you might be thinking, “These are amazing benefits — I’m a great fit.” Well, your team might not agree.

Here are the 5 signs you are not a good fit for a dental billing company.

1. Your systems are not up to date

Your systems need to be up to date to work with a dental billing company. This means you use current dental software, and your actual computer software is updated regularly. A dental billing service works within your dental software remotely. 

If your dental software is not up-to-date and or is logging your dental biller out every five minutes, your biller can’t do their job which means you’re not collecting money from insurance companies. 

Dental offices that have been around for a while may continue to operate with outdated software. We’ve seen this more often than you’d believe! We know it’s painful to update systems, but updated software can help your practice work more efficiently. 

Newer dental practice programs have work-saving features and automation that can make your life easier and your job more efficient.

Not to mention, as software programs age you may be missing security updates needed for HIPAA compliance. 

Even if you don’t sign on with a billing company, it’s important to use current dental practice software for your own security.

2. Your team is unwilling to work with a remote dental billing company

It may seem silly to mention this. Theoretically, the dentist or business owner is in charge of the outsourcing decision and the admin team should get on board. 

However, we’ve seen time and time again that some office managers and admin team members refuse to accept that using a dental billing service empowers everyone’s success. 

It’s a common misconception that a dental billing company is going to take control of the billing at the dental practice. This is when team members become territorial and skeptical. 

It’s not true though — outsourced dental billers handle the insurance side of billing so that your team can focus on patient billing, scheduling, and everything else that makes your office successful (which is a lot!). 

However, if your team is dragging their feet to get on board with the dental billing company, they’re going to make it impossible for billers to do their job successfully. 

It’s a group effort, and the billers need to work alongside your team members to get your claims paid.

Win insurance appeals - see article

3. Communication is not a priority to your dental team

Working with an outsourced billing company does, in fact, require frequent communication. Not every single day necessarily, but if a biller has a question on a claim and is trying to get it paid for your office, someone needs to be available to answer those questions. 

Your dental office is still going to be responsible for insurance verification and patient billing. Without those activities, low revenue will still plague your dental practice! 

Regularly communicating with one another about expectations, denied claims, or questions about the patient’s information is crucial for you and the company to do your jobs well. Your revenue depends on it. 

We recommend you set a precedent for effective communication from the start.

Going through orientation and getting the dental billing service computer up and running will lay the foundation for a successful relationship.

4. You're looking for a quick fix

If you only need outsourced billing services for a short amount of time, you’re going to need a plan to handle the claims workload just as efficiently as your outsourced team. Otherwise, starting the relationship with the dental billing company is going to be a pointless exercise for you.

Insurance billing requires expertise, time, and attention to detail. It isn’t a role that can be temporarily filled, then passed on (to someone with less experience) once numbers begin to climb. 

Once the outsourced dental billing service stops, your revenue will too — unless you have someone with the equivalent experience and skill who can handle the insurance billing workload. 

If you don’t do this, your collections numbers will go back right to where they were before you outsourced.

If you do just need some help with your insurance billing temporarily until you find someone in-house, let your billing company know. They deserve to know your expectations going into this working relationship and you should know their expectations as well. 

5. The decision-maker (or business owner) does not want to be involved in feedback from the remote billing expert

There are two types of dentists we see as an outsourced dental billing service: 

  • The dentist who is all-in, who wants to know what’s happening with the billing process and get regular updates, and …
  • The hands-off dentist who wants to stay out of the relationship between the office and the dental billing company as much as possible

Obviously, the dentist or business owner is not going to get down in the weeds of the billing process. That’s why an administrative team exists, so the dentist can focus on patient care. 

For a relationship with a dental billing company to work, the decision-maker needs to be involved and aware of how the billing system is doing. 

You need to know if your collection rate is worth the cost you’re paying — whether you’re paying an employee or an outsourced service.

Part 7: Does the outsourced dental billing team replace my current in-house admin team?

The short answer: NO. But we’ll explain. 

When introducing your team to a dental billing company, or even bringing up the idea of hiring one, your employees will naturally have a lot of questions like: 

In the early days, it can be difficult for the administrative team to keep an open mind when working with a dental billing service. 

But the truth is, the outsourced dental billers serve as an extension of your team

Sure, a remote biller won’t be in the office. They won’t be creating that same in-person connection with your team, but they will hone in on getting your claims paid and helping your employees have more time to focus on patients, scheduling, and taking care of the office. 

Dental billing companies handle behind-the-scenes tasks so that you can focus on the office

Your team might think once you’ve signed on to outsource the insurance billing, you’ll have nothing to do with insurance because the remote team is invisibly handling it. 

You might never meet them in person, but the remote biller or team is going to not only meet you via video conference but also communicate with you daily, the way any team member would. 

Think of your remote billers as behind-the-scenes workers. They’re the ones making sure all the tedious insurance issues backstage are taken care of. Handling insurance billing is time-consuming. Your least favorite tasks are now something someone else handles. 

Getting claims paid can also mean spending too much time on the phone with insurance companies. This should not take hours out of your day that you could spend helping the people you work with and the patients in front of you. You — not the remote biller — are the best person to give patients the attention they deserve.

The outsourced biller has the same goal as your team: get claims paid

Your team probably dislikes dealing with insurance as much as the next person. The only difference between your team and the biller is the experience and expertise the biller has that comes with dealing with insurance daily. 

Plus, the remote biller will have the time to devote to the task of insurance billing. It’s like a chess match for the billers, and they always intend to win the appeals game. 

While administrative team members are paid by the hour, the remote biller isn’t. Your biller (or billers, depending on the size of your practice) gets paid depending on how much money they bring in for you! So they are hyper-motivated to get your insurance claims paid. 

Most billers are 1099 contractors. They don’t necessarily get the same paycheck every other week as a W-2 worker would. Because of this, their personal income depends on how many claims they close out for each office they work with. They’re ready to get every single claim paid for you.

And your team is motivated to get claims paid because it will help increase the revenue of the practice. Having this common goal puts everyone on the same team. 

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The biller does not "boss around" your admin team

A common fear among office managers, or other members of the administrative team, is that the outsourced biller is going to take control away from them, but this isn’t true. 

The remote biller’s sole responsibility is going to be your insurance billing. Their purpose isn’t to take over your office, it’s to handle insurance billing and in turn, eliminate the stress your team faces surrounding it. 

The admin team will not “report” to the biller, and the biller won’t really report to the admin team. They’ll technically report to the dentist or business owner. 

If the remote biller is hired on and notices a lot of the claims they submit for the team are being denied for the same reasons (incorrect patient information, data entry errors, etc), they’ll address it with the admin team and figure out where the process could be improved. 

The biller isn’t going to offer advice or solutions unless problems (such as consistently denied claims) arise that affect how they perform their own duties. 

Part 8: How do I introduce my dental team to an outsourced dental billing company?

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a possibility not everyone on your team will be ready to embrace the change that comes with outsourcing your billing.

Have you communicated with your administrative team what this change will look like and how it will benefit them? 

If you don’t have a plan to introduce your team to this billing company, they could feel blindsided, nervous they are being replaced, judged that their work wasn’t “good enough,” or just flat out annoyed that they have to learn to communicate with someone outside of the office. 

Here are some tips for how to introduce your dental team to an outsourced billing company. 

Tip #1: Be open with your dental team when you've made the decision to outsource your dental billing

Give your team some lead time to understand what’s going on. Fewer surprises mean fewer complaints. This is a major change for your administrative team. They aren’t used to someone else coming in and taking over a portion of their responsibilities. 

Informing your team might look like having a big group meeting with your entire dental team, and sharing that you’ve decided to outsource your insurance billing, and what the onboarding process is going to look like for everyone. You especially need to be honest with whomever it will directly affect, namely your insurance coordinator or whoever has been previously handling the insurance billing. 

Tip #2: Explain that the dental billing company is not a threat to their employment

Office staff often fear they are being replaced. It’s a completely reasonable fear, especially if the person has been on the in-house dental team for several years. 

If they’ve been doing the insurance billing, they may feel their efforts weren’t appreciated or that their livelihood is threatened. 

In most cases when the dentist hires a dental billing company, it just means their team needs help, not that anyone is being replaced. 

If you’re the decision-maker, explain this to your team. Reassure them that the billing company is there to relieve your dental team of the most time-consuming and stressful tasks of getting insurance claims paid. They aren’t going to interfere with the relationships already built within the administrative team, or patients. 

Tip #3: Take the time to explain how the dental billing company will work and how it will benefit everyone

If your team hasn’t been fully informed on what the billing company’s purpose is, what it does and how it may affect their job, they might be resistant to the change. 

The remote billing team is laser-focused on making sure insurance claims are sent, appealing denied claims, and following up on unpaid claims. 

Your team will learn this during an orientation with the dental billing company. However, as the leader, you’ll help your team succeed even more if they hear from you what the billing company will be handling versus what the in-house team will be responsible for.

You will receive plenty of information that will help you explain everything (should you work with us). Your team will appreciate your support and transparency and have a better understanding of what their future role in your practice is going to look like. 

It’s crucial to get your team in the right mindset to be all-in on the change that comes with outsourcing your insurance billing.

  • Encourage them to have a positive attitude about this change
  • Tell them to be ready to make communication their top priority 
  • Remind them that the more successful the new process, the more income for your practice, and more freedom to focus on growth and patient care 

Clearly communicating your expectations from your dental team will ensure a smooth transition as you introduce a dental billing company into your practice. 

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Part 9: What can my team do to get ready to work with the dental billing company?

Now that you understand the purpose of the dental billing company, and what kinds of expectations your team should have, you’re probably wondering exactly how outsourced dental billing is going to work.

Sure, there are the logistical parts of working with a dental billing company, which you will learn during orientation if you decide to sign on with one. 

But in this section, we’re going over how to work successfully with a dental billing company. There are three big mindsets that will affect how well the relationship works: 

1. Embrace the positive change remote dental billing will bring

Insurance billing is complicated and tedious and can involve sitting on the phone for a frustrating amount of time. When we say “buy-in” to the idea of a dental billing company, it means to get ready to have help where you didn’t before. 

Having a positive mindset means don’t ignore the billers when they contact you and embracing the change in your dental office. 

For this to work, everyone needs to get on board with helping your billing experts help you. They sit on the phone with insurance companies so you don’t have to. 

Embracing the new billing company also means getting ready to focus on all of the other tasks you are responsible for, whether that means tending to patient care as a dentist, or checking in patients and collecting payments as a member of the front desk team. Enjoy having enough time in your day to work on these things, other tasks you’d rather do, or even take a lunch break! 

2. Make communication a top priority

Communication is a huge factor in your success with a dental billing company. Especially when you are first onboarding your dental billing company, set a precedent for frequent, easy communication. Learning how to work with each other in the beginning, going through orientation, and getting all of the equipment set up to work with a dental billing company is what sets the foundation of this working relationship. 

Your dental office is still going to be responsible for insurance verification and patient billing. Without that information, there is no insurance billing! 

Maintain your half of the billing equation while the dental billing company maintains theirs. 

Regularly communicating with one another about expectations, denied claims, or questions about the patient’s information is crucial for you and the billing company to do your jobs well. 

5 tips to collect more from insurance billing

3. Think of the dental billing company as an investment in a super-efficient claims system

It’s easy for someone at the office to say, “I’ll handle the insurance billing, don’t spend your money on that company!” 

Insurance billing can bring in about 50% of your dental practice’s revenue, sometimes more. Should so much of your income depend solely on one person who may have other responsibilities on their plate? 

Outsourcing your insurance billing can ensure your payments keep coming, and free up time for your team to focus on tasks like caring for your patients. You will have more time to check in patients, answer phones, present treatment plans, and collect patient payments. 

This is why you should think of your dental billing company as an investment that will make your dental practice better. 

Embrace the mindset that outsourcing relieves everyone of insurance stress and helps the practice make more money. 

Part 10: How will my team interact with their remote biller?

Building a confident working relationship between your team and the remote biller is a crucial part of ensuring success with outsourced dental billing. 

The remote biller is like a coworker at your dental practice 

The biller’s number one priority is getting you paid from insurance companies. This requires diligent work, frequent communication, and clear expectations.

Although you can't physically eat lunch with your remote biller, you can still communicate and build a friendly relationship. We've seen it happen many times! Most offices grow to love their remote biller and create a trusting working relationship as if they were elbow to elbow with you.  

Common questions about working with a remote biller

How often will my office have to communicate with the remote biller?

This varies, but you will likely not have to chat with your remote biller every single day. You’ll agree on a preferred communication method in advance, and if they have a question or concern, you’ll hear from them there.

You can easily see their work in your software through: 

  • Claims sent daily and accurately
  • Payments posted promptly
  • Claims worked daily with notes as needed in each claim record
  • Notes about claim balances so you can follow up with patients
  • Notes about any balances remaining

Your biller will send a Daily Deposits Report or reconciliation every day. This report will show you total amounts posted and share questions or correspondence on patient claims. You’ll see what was done and get a snapshot of how your practice is performing daily.

What if my admin team has a problem or complaint about the remote biller?

Mistakes happen, even by expert dental billers. There can also be miscommunications between the biller and the admin team. 

If either of these happens frequently, the in-house team is encouraged to do something about it. 

Depending on the level of the mistake, you can:

  • Bring the mistake to your remote biller
  • Discuss the mistake with whoever is in charge of your remote biller

You can discuss any questions or concerns with your sales representative or team lead. 

Most issues can be resolved with honest and clear communication on the phone or via Zoom. Together, you’ll create a plan to prevent the same mistake in the future. 

All dental billers go through an extensive vetting process, as well as a standardized training process. A trusting relationship and great communication with your dental billing company will help you to resolve any issues quickly. 

Part 11: How do I choose the right dental billing company?

There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a dental billing company and a few red flags that show you what to avoid.

Start with your current needs

Before searching for the right dental billing company, look in the mirror and pinpoint the issues your practice needs to address. 

Identify these in advance so you can share them in your initial conversation with a prospective dental billing company.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself: 

  • Is our collection percentage lower than it should be?
  • Is our insurance aging report too high?
  • Do we need to have dentists within your practice credentialed?
  • Do we struggle to get paid by insurance companies? 
  • Is our front desk team overworked and overwhelmed? 

You can even think more generally: 

  • What will make our practice more successful?
  • What will make our dental team happier? 
  • What will make our dental practice run more efficiently?

Think through the answers to these questions before talking to a prospective dental billing company. 

You’ll know what you are and are not looking for and can eliminate outsourced dental billing companies that can’t provide the services you need.  

Your dental billing company reconnaissance mission

Want to find the best dental billing company for you? Do some sleuthing in advance.

Gathering intel can be as simple as searching online for  “outsourced dental billing companies.”

Browse through each website in the results and review their services. Do their services match your needs? 

If so, begin to assess other things on their website. 

  • Do they list their prices? If so, review these so you can create a preliminary budget for outsourcing your dental billing. 

  • Do they have an FAQ section? If so, you may find information about contract length, the onboarding process, team communication, and when you may expect to see your collections increase. 

When you find a good candidate, try reading online reviews to learn how others have experienced working with the dental billing company you’re considering. 

Plan your budget

You wouldn’t go car shopping without doing some research on prices and setting a budget for yourself, would you? Outsourcing insurance billing for your dental practice is no different. 

Most dental billing companies have their prices listed on their site: Use these to plan your budget. If prices seem suspiciously low, that could be a red flag that their services are not high quality, or there may be hidden fees. 

For all-inclusive services, dental billing companies start at a minimum of $1,000 per month on the low end. If prices are lower than that, determine which services are included in the fee. 

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Notice the company’s sales team's communication style

You’ve done your research and you’ve created your budget. Time to make some calls! 

We’ve all talked to pushy sales people. It’s unpleasant and you can feel worked-over. Now that you are in communication with the company you might outsource to, you can tell a lot about their style based on how the sales team communicates. Look for a point of contact who answers your questions honestly and clearly. 

If the sales team gives you the run-around on a pricing question, that could be a red flag. If they bombard you with emails and calls after the initial phone call or ignore you completely, those might be red flags too! 

Let’s look closely at red flags. 

Watch out for these red flags when choosing a dental billing company

Red flag #1: The company uses dental billers located outside of the United States

You need a company who you are comfortable communicating with because they are handling a large portion of your revenue. 

If you have any questions or concerns, you should be able to:

  • Contact them quickly and easily
  • Connect with no issues 
  • Understand them without communication barriers

Some dental billing companies contract with billers overseas, which can have unforeseen consequences. 

When you call to speak to a sales representative, ask who you will be communicating with daily and how their process works 

Ask, “Where is your company located?” or, “Where is my point-of-contact located?” 

Do the website and social media accounts feature photos of the company, its owners, and their employees? Some outsourced dental billing company sites only have stock images and only post memes on social media. 

Red flag #2: There is no educational training requirement for the remote biller

Choose a company that vets their billers and puts them through a rigorous training process before letting them touch your practice’s insurance billing. 

If the biller is not educated on dental billing insurance and the process of getting claims paid by insurance, you could miss out on money you have earned.

Make sure you are bringing on a well-trained expert for this crucial role.

Red flag #3: Dental billing companies that use too much automated communication 

Have you ever been on hold for a long time, waiting for a customer service representative? Or maybe you can only get automated replies when you really want to speak with a human.

The best way to avoid this is to note how your prospective dental billing company communicates with you when you’re inquiring about their services. 

Some companies even send videos to potential customers so you can see their faces and can tell that the email is from a human being. 

Human communication is the best way to build trust, especially when it comes to outsourcing services. If all you’re getting is pre-written replies, how are you supposed to trust the company to be responsible for a huge chunk of your revenue? 

Send the company an email or give them a call and see what kind of replies you get, and you’ll know which company will be easy to deal with and which will not.

What now? Your next step

You now know how to maximize your revenue by working with an outsourced dental billing company. 

You understand why dental practices outsource their insurance billing, how outsourced dental billing companies communicate, how your remote biller fits with your administrative team, and what to look for when researching prospective companies. 

You’re ready to take the next step and find out if outsourcing is right for your dental practice. 

Schedule a call to discover how our team at Dental ClaimSupport can help your team today.

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