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February 2018

The Basics of Fair Debt Collection Procedures

When patients just aren’t paying their bills, it can be a frustrating experience. So when it comes to collection practices, it’s important to know the steps you can legally take and the actions you should avoid.

Debt collections are regulated under federal law by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was put in place to eliminate abuse from debt collection companies. Because a dental office’s main purpose is to provide dental treatment and collect fees in its own name, it falls outside of the federal law.

However, collection practices of a dental practice may fall under the Michigan Collection Practices Act. This act prohibits the use of harassing or abusive methods to collect a debt. Examples include calling patients repeatedly, calling patients at unusual times of the day, or communicating with patients’ employers regarding their debt.

MDA Legal Counsel Dan Schulte, JD, recommends that dental offices treat patient debt in accordance with the MCPA.

  • First, a dental office should have a written payment policy in place to minimize problems with non-paying patients. A clear payment agreement that states when a debt will be turned over to a collection agency puts an office in a fair and firm position without being confrontational.
  • Second, be diligent with communicating the treatment plan and costs with patients. Dentists want the very best for their patients but, realistically, not everyone can afford every recommended treatment. Offer patients treatment options so they can choose the treatment that will best work with their budget. Allowing your patients to make informed decisions about their treatment goes a long way in reducing future non-payment issues.
  • Finally, the act also requires an entity conducting collection activities to accurately disclose its identity when communicating with a debtor. All communication with patients should be calm and civil. It is not easy to ask for money, especially when people are caught off guard regarding a debt.

These tips are just the basics of following proper collection procedures. There are many other collection activities expressly prohibited or required by the MCPA. Take a moment and review both the FFD-CPA and MCPA to find out more information.

Check out the MDA’s new Job Board: MI Dental Jobs

Attention job seekers! The Michigan Dental Association recently launched MI Dental Jobs, a new, interactive job board for dentists and dental team members. Find it at

MI Dental Jobs serves as Michigan’s go-to resource for dental employment. Job-seekers can create user profiles, receive job alerts when new ads are posted, receive job alerts based on specific criteria, or search geo¬graphically or by specialty. Employers posting jobs have the ability to include complete job descriptions and other details.

Beginning in March, MI Dental Jobs replaces the “Employment Opportunities” listings in the MDA Journal Classifieds. However, MI Dental Jobs includes jobs for assistants, hygienists, and business staff, positions that did not previously appear in the Journal Employment Opportunities ads.

The design of MI Dental Jobs is similar to the MDA website, so switching from the website classifieds to the Job Board will be seamless to users.

For information about MI Dental Jobs, contact the MDA’s Jackie Hammond at 800-589-2632, ext. 419.


MDA Annual Session Offers Courses for Dental Business Staff

Make plans to attend this year’s MDA Annual Session, April 25-28 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing, featuring CE courses designed for dental office business staff. Check out what’s available!

Wednesday, April 25

Thursday, April 26

Friday, April 27

Saturday, April 28

All of these courses (except the two Hot Topic sessions) count towards the MDA’s new Certified Dental Business Professional program for dental office managers and business staff.

The program allows you to earn the new CDBP credential by taking 30 credits of MDA courses offered at Annual Session, one-day seminars, or online. Enrollment in the program is FREE, which includes a starter kit with binder, curriculum checklist, and upcoming courses. Whether you are a new office manager or a seasoned dental team member, the CDBP certification will help your dental practice function more effectively and efficiently.

Free Program Explains the Way to Earn an RDA License

If your office has certified dental assistant or on-the-job trained dental assistants interested in taking their careers to the next level, encourage them to attend a free RDA Information Program, March 24, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Genesee Room of the Prahl Center at Mott Community College in Flint.

The information program is designed to help address the shortage of registered dental assistants in Michigan by explaining the optional pathways currently available to obtain the RDA license. Program directors and instructors from both Mott Community College and Washtenaw Community College are hosting the program. Currently employed dental assistants and their employers are encouraged to attend. The program will discuss:

  • details of entering an RDA program;
  • the time commitment and cost to earn an RDA license;
  • program requirements; and
  • a review of the Administrative Rules governing dental assistants.

One continuing education credit is available and refreshments will be served. Contact Lori Barnhart at 810-515-6317 to register.

Contact Information

MDA Practice Management Department
Ginger Fernandez, RDH, RDA
Manager, Professional Review and Practice Management

MDA Human Resources Department
Brandy Ryan, PHR, SHRM-PC
MDA Director of Human Resources