Mom Hacks

My dentist owed me $1,300!

by Ali

Imagine going to your dentist and finding out you have a “credit” on your account of over $1,300. When you ask for more information you find out the credit has been sitting at your dentist’s office for over a year, and the staff never alerted you. Are you thinking of all the things you could have been doing with that money? That’s exactly what happened to Natalie Myers of Plano, TX and she wants to share her story with you so you don’t end up in her situation.

In the spring of 2014 both Natalie and her husband had extensive dental work performed including porcelain veneers, root canal, and a tooth implant. They knew that the work would be needed, and had saved appropriately for the procedures the prior year. The dentist required that both Natalie and her husband pay $5,000 each at the time of the procedures’ as they were unsure how much would be covered under the dental plan. So Natalie and her husband paid the dentist $10,000 and each had work completed. They visited the office several times during the next year for follow-ups and cleanings for both themselves and their children. During this time the family started to receive notices from their insurance that some of the dental work would be covered.

Fast-forward to fall of 2015, Natalie is in the office with her daughter who was getting a molar filled. The office staff alerted Natalie that there would be an extra fee for topical anesthesia. When Natalie went to pay for the anesthesia the staff said not to worry, it was covered by a “credit” on the account. It was at that moment a red flag went off in Natalie’s head and she asked for more information. After reviewing her family’s billing ledger from the office, she realized a $1,300 credit had been sitting on the account for over a year! Natalie was furious no one in the office had alerted them of the credit or made any effort to repay the family. After several months of contacting her dentist’s office she was finally able to get her money back.

Don’t let this happen to you!

With all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life it is easy to let some of these administrative tasks fall to the wayside. Here are some tips to help you keep track of your expenses.

  1. Know what’s going on: pay attention to the statements coming in from your insurance company. Keep them in one place or go back and review online records. Did you have to pay for a procedure at the office only to look back at the insurance statement and see you overpaid? If this is the case, follow up with your doctor - you may have a credit on your account.
  2. Communication: call your insurance company and doctor’s office to follow up to inquire about what has/has not been paid. Doctor’s offices are great at collecting money but not so great at returning it. Unfortunately, you may need to call or request in writing several times before your payment is released - be diligent in your efforts.
  3. Get a second opinion: Even when you know you need work done it is good to get a second opinion. Another doctor or dentist may offer a different treatment plan or have a different payment policy that would work better for your family.

Unfortunately, overpayments are becoming commonplace because offices are asking for payments prior to filing insurance claims. Reading your statements and following up with your doctors can help you recuperate lost money.

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Hi, I'm Ali! I wrote this blog because I love helping people decode confusing insurance jargon and understand the fine print. I'm a licensed health insurance professional and specialize in simplifying health insurance for individuals and small businesses. My QSEHRA articles have been featured regularly on Accounting Today, Accounting Web, HRWeb, and other industry publications. I'm also a member of Take Command Health's client success team and a full-time mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!