I Love Treating Sleep Apnea – But I Hate Medical Insurance

You’ve attended a sleep apnea lecture -something that inspires you.  It gives you insight to the power of helping patients and the benefit this can have for your practice.

You are pumped!  You are charged up!  

You are going to save the world one sleep apneic at a time.   You are going to transform your practice.

That’s how I felt the first time after coming home from my first course in 2008.  I knew there was a need in my practice and in my community.   I didn’t understand exactly what I was getting into, but I knew it was important.

Most of it made sense to me.  But the elephant in my mind was ‘How was I going to get patients to pay for it?’

My first thought was to keep it simple.  The patient would pay up front and then they could bill their medical insurance on their own.

I had success.  But it was very limited success in the sense that I did very few appliances.  BUT the patients I did treat were over the moon excited.  It was slow going but I wasn’t going to give up.

Then I decided to actually learn how to start billing medical insurance.  I’ll tell you what, it’s nothing like dental insurance.  Even when we thought we had everything correct we were getting denials for silly oversights, but that’s how the medical insurance world works.  Once we got proper software, proper training and help from a third party biller we were off to the races.

Looking back, I would say that adding the ability to assist patients with their medical insurance has had a PROFOUND impact on sleep apnea in my practice.  Quite frankly, it has meant going from occassionally doing a few appliances to it becoming a more regular part of my practice.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have a medical condition.  They are also conditioned to utilize their medical benefits.  It’s actualy more that.  They EXPECT their medical benefits to greatly assist them.  So it’s imperative that you learn to utilize medical benefits so you can grow your practice.

Treating sleep apnea does not have to be scary.  BUT it should be profitable and fun.  Get trained and get trained now – ESPECIALLY if you can find a course that teaches both.


About the Author:

Dr. Elliott grew up in Southern California but went away to a small NAIA school in Western New York where she played collegiate soccer and graduated summa cum laude from Houghton College. After graduated 5th in her class from Creighton Dental School she settled in North Idaho to begin her general dentistry career. She has a special interest in Dental Sleep Medicine and Short Term Orthodontics (Six Month Smiles). She has lectured extensively on this topic and loves to help general dentists extend this life saving service to their patients. She is an active member of her local American Dental Association society and PAC fundraising chairman for the state of Idaho. She is also a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is president and diplomate of American Sleep and Breathing Academy.

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