In a recent Dentaltown poll, collections in 2019 were up for 38 percent of Townies, flat for 18 percent, and down for 15 percent. We know that one of the simplest ways to increase collections is to raise fees; but it’s not that simple. How to do it without alienating regular patients and maintaining profitability can be tricky.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
- Raising recurring fees is more noticeable than direct restorations or preventative care.
- Aim for fees in a range of 70 to 80 percent, except for cosmetic dentistry, which can be priced higher.
- Evaluate your fees yearly. In an existing practice, you probably only need to make a few adjustments each year.
- If you’re buying a practice and fees are very low, you can implement increases of 5 to 10 percent each year until you’re more in line with competitors and your local marketplace.
- Typically, you won’t need to communicate fee increases with patients.
- One of the only reasons I can think of for publicly advertising your fee schedule is for specialty services for a niche group you’re going after, like dentures or implants.
Luckily, there are lots of resources to help you decide where your fees should be, like the 2018 ADA Survey on Dental Fees, the 2017 Dental Economics regional fee survey, and others. The data from Dental Economics is a couple years old, but it’s still a decent resource for determining fees on the top 20 most used CDT codes based on region. Here’s a snapshot of our region.
There are insurance implications for raising fees, too. Anytime you institute a fee increase or offer discounts to patients, like senior citizen or referral discounts, always report the net fees to the insurance company, not the gross.
One way to help patients absorb higher fees, and just a good practice in general, is to offer third-party financing. If you’re not already offering it and other payment options, now is a great time to start. Or you could look into becoming an insurance-free practice.
If you’re in the market to sell your practice in the short-term, be aware that high procedural fees can scare off potential buyers. When you increase fees, do so with what the market, and your practice, can bear, but don’t be greedy.
Do you have questions on raising procedure fees in your dental practice?
Contact Dental CPAs for a fee analysis.