Endodontist Emmanuel Ngoh, DMD, has been practicing in Augusta, Georgia for more than 20 years. The Augusta area is very dental savvy, Dr Ngoh says, mainly due to the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University, which is located in the city.
“Because we’re [near] the dental school, people here have a strong knowledge of what it means to take care of their teeth more,” Dr Ngoh says.
As an endodontist, Dr Ngoh says patients are referred to him because they’re in need of immediate care.
“Most of these patients don’t carry cash all the time,” he explains. “And when [a] patient...needs help, that is when CareCredit comes in very handy.”
CareCredit is a credit card designed for health care needs that offers patients a way to pay for the costs of many treatments and procedures by stretching payments out. This has been a game-changer for Dr Ngoh’s patients and his practice, he says.
“I would say about 80% of our patients are [those] who [need immediate care],” Dr Ngoh says. “The challenge that we had initially is that you have a patient who comes in and they need [acute dental] care.”
CareCredit is a health care credit card designed for patients’ health and wellness needs. It’s a way to pay for the costs of many treatments and procedures by allowing patients to make convenient monthly payments. CareCredit is accepted at more than 250,000 providers nationwide for dentistry, vision care, veterinary care, hearing care, and other specialties. CareCredit is now also accepted at select retail locations, including Walgreens, Walmart, and Sam’s Club.
800-300-3046 | carecredit.com
Before adding CareCredit to his practice about 18 years ago, Dr Ngoh would treat these types of cases. The issue that arose was that, once the patient was no longer dealing with a dental issue, they would see no need to come back to the practice for a follow-up.
“Once that motivation...is gone, they don’t come back,” he explains. “It’s not a need anymore. And then the last thing is for them to pay me. So I constantly used to send patients to collections, and the collection agency was hoping that [would] pay me. That was not a good practice module.”
The next patient financing solution Dr Ngoh tried was offered through a local bank. The problem with this option was that the applicant approval rate was low, as was the approval amount, significantly narrowing the pool of patients who were able to pay this way, he says.
“Those are the kinds of challenges that we’d have, and this patient has now been left with the only alternative—either to pull the tooth or find some way to come up with the money to pay for this treatment. And some of them…had to go back and take a second mortgage just to pay for treatment because they needed immediate care,” Dr Ngoh explains. “These are some of the challenges that we had in our practice.”
Whether they do not have coverage or have maxed out their benefits for the year, many patients can fall through the cracks of dental insurance coverage, pressing them to pay for treatment out of pocket. CareCredit, however, is an effective stopgap.
CareCredit can be used for the majority of dental treatments, including 6-month checkups; preventative dentistry, such as endodontics, periodontics, and ceramic fillings; and restorative procedures, such as implants, crowns, and veneers. The company offers shorter-term financing options of 6, 12, 18, or 24 months with promotional financing on purchases of $200 or more when the minimum monthly payments are made and the amount is paid in full by the end of the promotional period. Patients can also use CareCredit in conjunction with their dental insurance.
“With those options now, they can reach out and [accept] the needed treatment. Then I don’t have a cancellation because now I have patients in my chair, and I can provide treatment,” Dr Ngoh says. “It’s a win-win.”
Within a few months of implementing CareCredit, the practice’s accounts receivable have significantly improved, something Dr Ngoh attributes to CareCredit. It’s also provided a morale boost for his staff, who can now offer patients other payment options when discussing treatments.
“When you’re looking at a patient…and say, “Your treatment is this number of thousands of dollars,’ and the patient is like, ‘How am I going to afford this?’, now we can turn around, look at them, and say, “I have good news for you. Within 5 minutes, you can apply for this and if you get approved, [there’s promotional financing] for 12 months.’ And this patient moved from a person who was so dejected, to now one who is so excited. And then to see also how Ashley [Morris], my financial coordinator, how she [is]so happy because she’s able to help this person, Dr Ngoh explains. “With CareCredit, everyone wins.”