Dental Tribune America

Dental practices add surcharges for PPE

By Iveta Ramonaite, DTI
June 03, 2020

CHICAGO, U.S.: Dental practices are suffering from the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and the substantial economic loss brought about by contact restrictions and reduced working hours. However, various businesses have found a way to help cover some of the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic. Faced with the crisis, businesses such as salons, restaurants and dental offices have started levying surcharge fees on customers.

Updated requirements for infection control and prevention have led to increasing personal protective equipment (PPE) costs, and many dental practices are currently struggling to meet the growing demand for PPE in the health care setting. In order to help replenish stock supplies and ensure the safety of patients and staff, some practices have started to charge extra fees ranging from $10 to $40 (€9 to €36) per patient that are intended to help cover the additional expenses.

However, some customers are unhappy with the newly added fees, claiming that the copayment for PPE is unfair, as it holds patients accountable for their own safety. To make matters worse, some dental patients are struggling financially, as they have been laid off as a result of the pandemic. Consequently, they are no longer covered by health insurance and are finding it difficult to bear out-of-pocket dental costs.

Commenting on the issue, the American Dental Association (ADA) told Dental Tribune International: “The cost of PPE has increased considerably, resulting in some dentists charging an extra fee to cover the increased expense. The choice to charge an additional fee for PPE is an individual dental practice business decision.”

“The ADA strongly encourages dental offices to disclose any additional fees upfront to patients and to document these charges in the patient record,” the association noted.

Additionally, the ADA recommended that dental benefit carriers either adjust the maximum allowable fees for all procedures to cover the increased costs of PPE or allow an additional standard fee per date of service per patient. The association also stated that, whereas many insurance carriers do not yet have policies or programs in place for PPE, some of them do offer support programs for additional PPE expenses.

More information about carriers that offer PPE financial support programs can be found here.

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