When you have a treatment plan you should have a payment plan. Go into any physician's office and the first thing the receptionist will ask you is what kind of insurance do you have. In a nice way they are asking you how are you going to pay for the service.
The rule of the school for payment is 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. At your first appointment let the patient know the rules. Another rule you should have is not to deliver any appliance if it is not completely paid for. At least you will get partial credit.
Of course there is no law against getting most of the payment up front. Do not condition the patient to pay at each appointment. If the patient doesn't have money for that appointment, they won't show up. (However, if you can get the patient to pay at each appointment, it's fine.)
Make sure you have the correct fee recorded. Don't assume that the fee written on the chart is correct. Look at the schedule yourself. If there is a change in treatment plan there will be a change in fees.
If the payments are being made by check there is a possibility that the last check may bounce. Whatever you do don't let the patient wait until all the work is done and then pay for the whole thing by check.
The school has contracted the Tele-Check company to verify personal checks at the cashier's window. In your lifetime you will get rubber checks, stolen checks even artfully altered postal money orders.
In your private practice, if the bill is $70 and the patient gives you a personal check for $100, don't give the patient $30 change. You will lose $30. Ask yourself why didn't the patient make out the check for $70.
You shouldn't give change on any check. A government check can be stolen and a certified check can be counterfeited. Only after the check is returned to the issuing bank will you know whether it is good or bad. This will take 10-14 days.
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©1999 by Julius Rosen, D.D.S.