Medicaid challenges and rewards: One new dentist’s experience
Dr. Chris Hasty, vice chair of ADA’s New Dentist Committee, weighs the challenges and “rewarding” experiences with accepting Medicaid in his practice and says, “As new dentists, we should want to see the Medicaid system fixed and functional.”
We asked Dr. Hasty for his thoughts on accepting Medicaid patients.
He offered a litany of “frustrations” with the system, which includes low reimbursement rates, bureaucratic hoops, closed networks, burdensome filing requirements, limited covered procedures, down coding, endless paperwork and RAC audits, “which is not only aggravating for the provider but very stressful and time consuming.”
“A truly functional and fair Medicaid system is not a bad thing,” said Dr. Hasty. “In addition, as long as the system is fixed and functional, dentistry will be able to decide its fate and role. Sure it is not glamorous, but you do learn valuable lessons from accepting Medicaid.”
“Medicaid provides a consistent influx of patients into your practice. This is the real world. You have a steady stream of patients to help you build your speed, work out of multiple chairs and check hygiene at the same time.
“I used my experiences with my Medicaid patients to determine what I truly like in dentistry, and maybe more importantly what I truly did not like. In addition, when the Medicaid system is functional you can depend on your reimbursement to be in the bank in a timely pattern.
However, one must be very careful to limit the amount of Medicaid in his/her practice. A practice too dependent on Medicaid is very vulnerable to outside influences affecting the growth and sustainability of the practice. One significant fee decrease can cause a practice to close its doors if it becomes too dependent on Medicaid.
“I believe that we, as new dentists, should support the ADA’s effort for Medicaid reform. With the number of graduates entering the workforce today, there will always be providers able to continue dental care to these patients even as others drop off the system. In addition there is a sense of satisfaction providing care to a child whose only hope for dental care came with the Medicaid card he or she brought in. It is very rewarding seeing a child that did not have a chance at good oral health grow into a young adult with good oral health because of a system that was fair to the participant and the provider.”
For more information on increasing provider participation in Medicaid, click here.