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Electronic funds transfers may be wave of the future

February 27, 2018

By David Burger

Editor's note: This is the eighth in a series featuring answers and solutions for dentists when it comes to the world of dental benefits and plans. The series is intended to help untangle many of the issues that can potentially befuddle dentists and their teams so that they can focus on patient care.

Electronic funds transfer may become the preferred payment method for third-party payers but protections for dentists need to be in place.

Photo of Joseph Crowley
Dr. Crowley
Photo of Mark Mihalo
Dr. Mihalo
This is according to the ADA Center for Dental Benefits, Coding and Quality and echoed by ADA President Joseph P. Crowley.

"Technology makes it possible to be more efficient, both in our front-of-office processes and with our patients," Dr. Crowley said. "With third-party payment transactions, as long as checks and balances are in place to protect the dentist and the patient, the digital future is where we want to be."

The switch from paper to electronic reimbursement by some third-party payers has prompted many calls to the staff of the ADA Center for Dental Benefits, Coding and Quality about how — and when — to make the switch.

Aetna has joined MetLife and other payers in adopting alternatives to reimbursement via paper check, either through electronic funds transfers or virtual credit cards.

Through the ADA's efforts, each of these third-party payers has agreed that individual dentists may opt out of electronic funds transfers and continue to receive paper checks for their claim reimbursements.

The ADA has been proactive in advocating for its members who wish to continue receive payments in the traditional way of paper checks. In 2017, the ADA House of Delegates passed the following statement in Resolution 34:

"The American Dental Association urges third-party payers to support a dentist's right to receive a traditional paper check in lieu of alternative payment methods as payment for services rendered to a beneficiary of a dental benefits program. The ADA opposes third-party payer payment methodologies that require a dentist to accept virtual credit card payments, electronic funds transfer payments or any other payment options as the only payment option without an opportunity to choose a paper check."

DDB Logo The ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs in February released an electronic funds transfer implementation checklist that is aimed to help dentists who decide on their own to move from paper to electronic payments, said Dr. Mark Mihalo, chair of the council's Subcommittee on Coding and Transactions. "The checklist reflects lessons learned during our 2017 study of dentists who moved from paper payments to electronic payments," he said. This free-to-download checklist is available at

The ADA also has an on-demand webinar on electronic fund transfers — addressing the how, the why and the myths — available at

The ADA has created a landing page for dental benefits information that can help dentists address and resolve even their most vexing questions,, part of the Center for Professional Success.

Staff from the Center for Dental Benefits, Coding and Quality can help dentists with dental benefits-related problems, questions and concerns. Call 1-800-621-8099 or email for questions regarding denial of claims.

If dentists have a concern or question they would like addressed in a future issue of the ADA News, they can contact