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CDA @ Work Oasis Podcasts Professional Issues

Are you using the new Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs)?

Benoit SoucyPodcast Icon SmallDr. John O’Keefe, Director of Knoweldge Networks at the Canadian Dental Association, spoke with Dr.Benoit Soucy, Director of Clinical and Scientific Affairs at CDA about Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs)




Listen to the Audio Interview




Interview Highlights

Current state of the issue

  • Insurance carriers are increasingly insisting that dentists take their payments through the Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs). 
  • The problem is that each company is doing it in its own way.
  • We find that carriers don’t measure the extent of the burden that their change is imposing on dental offices;
  • Dealing with a multitude of insurance companies can get burdensome for the dental office: we need to find a way to simplify the process and ensure that EFTs are sent in a similar manner and that reconciliation of payment can be done conveniently.

Carriers should not lose sight of the fact that payments that are sent to the dentists as a result of an assignment are actually payments that are due to their plan members; it is simply a change in the address of the cheque. Sending payment to plan members at no cost while imposing a charge to the dentists who want to continue to receive cheques, because that system works better for their office, is in our view absolutely unacceptable. 

Dentists have a right to decide how they manage their office operations and insurance carriers should not attempt to force them into a specific model by imposing unjustified fees.

What CDA is doing on behalf of Canadian dentists

Every time a dentist explores the possibility of moving to EFTs, CDA encourages the carrier to contact us to discuss common problems noticed with other carriers and try to avoid such problems.

Do you have any particular question on this topic? Do you have any comments or suggestions? Email us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

You are invited to comment on this post and provide further insights by posting in the comment box which you will find by clicking on “Post a reply” below. You are welcome to remain anonymous and your email address will not be posted.


  1. VR September 10, 2014

    EFTs will save us time and waiting for snail mail. My concern would be costs associated with this as it is unjustified not just because the insurance companies will never charge the patient. It’s also because they actually save a great deal of money through EFTs because of mailing savings AND because of savings in staff time to do it.

    I’d like to see if the CDA can arrange a general funds transfer system if possible. Otherwise, can you please explain the current systems available and who we might contact?


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  2. Dominika Szyling September 10, 2014

    Our office does not accept ETFs from Sun Life because they batch their ETFs on a daily basis rather than once a week like Alberta Blue Cross.

    The bank charges for each deposit.

  3. R D Speers, Toronto September 16, 2014

    Interesting. In 39 years of practice I have never taken a cheque from an insurer. Thus, our administrative burden is really quite modest. I suppose it is one more control mechanism the industry hopes to impose on individual dentists. I trust organized dentistry will continue to support those of us who deal directly with our patients.

  4. Sherry September 16, 2014

    I find it very interesting how the dental community is allowing an insurance company to dictate how they will run their practice. Rather that trying to standardize EFTs why doesn’t the CDA promote a unified position for all dentists to go non-assignment. We seem to have lost sight that an insurance policy belongs to the plan member and not the service provider.

    1. VR September 16, 2014

      I agree that it’s nice to look at insurance and non-assignment. I was on that previous to the crash. It’s simply not affordable for everyone to come to an office and pay up front. My practice did well without assigment AND it’s doing better now after the world wide economic troubles and job losses and lack of spending dollars WITH a modified assignment. This doesn’t mean you do bad dentistry! It does mean more staff time.
      And, of course I’d love to be non-assignment again!

    2. Anonymous September 16, 2014

      Yes, CDA must promote a unified position for all dentist to go non-assignment. At present, we dentist are paying just to get paid for the service they provided and on the top EFT are making us pay for every deposit. I don’t understand why our dental community is allowing the insurance company to dictate how to run business side of the practice.

    3. Kathy September 16, 2014

      I agree 100%. Some dentists do it anyway and are still busy. If patients love their dentist..payment is not a major issue. People have credit cards and can create payment plans .

  5. dr.b September 16, 2014

    Our office stopped accepting assignment several years ago. Smartest thing we could have done. I can’t figure out what possesses dentists to continue to accept assignment from these parasites, it costs you money, time, and puts you in an awkward ethical position. And patients didn’t leave our practice or stop coming when we changed.

  6. Michael September 16, 2014

    Felt so helpless, being forced into using a system that is not ideal for us. We have to have a staff doing just the task to download, assign individual payments, verify bank deposits. If there is any error or shortfall, we are the ones to find out which individual payment has to be adjusted, all at our added expense.
    Now that each insurance company has their own payment eft, we have to train our staff to use them.
    At least we should voice our concern?

  7. Joanne September 16, 2014

    My chief complaint is that the accounting burden is getting ridiculous. Instead of one daily deposit, we could have ten. Just by accepting Sunlife direct deposit, I have increased the number of transactions monthly by approx 50. And I have a small office! It is getting increasingly cumbersome to reconcile my business banking account every month with hundreds of transactions. If insurance companies followed Blue Cross’s example and did two bulk payments a month, it would simplify the banking side of things immensely.

  8. rds September 17, 2014

    With electronic claims submission and credit card payment, patients actually have their money before they receive their credit card statements. When insurers try to ‘claw back’ payment, it seems harder to do so when we deal directly with patients. Now that dentists are paying upwards of $300K for their qualifications and north of $600K for a practice, it is a conundrum to me that we would let a third party dictate our business plan and accept their policies.

  9. JCDA Oasis September 17, 2014

    On behalf of Dr. Nilava Ghatak:

    To be quite frank, I think it is long overdue that dental offices (even in metropolitan cities with heavy competition) go back to being non-assignment. Instead of appreciating all our efforts in dealing with the insurance companies, the general public views this service as a right. Taking assignment is also partly responsible for the multitude of insurance fraud (i.e. forgiving co-payments on a regular basis) occurring in major cities. We need to band together as a profession to put an end of this tyranny. The majority of specialty dental offices do not take assignment; it maybe a difficult transition for the general practices, but it’ll definitely be worthwhile.

    1. VR September 17, 2014

      Sounds great! How do we do this? ODA? CDA? Bring a motion? Thoughts?

      1. Ronn Gibb September 17, 2014

        Just do it. You do not need the CDA or other organization to do it for you. You need staff you see the benefits of non-assignment. We went from sending out 200 statements for outstanding balance to less than 20. Take the payment and be done with the procedure vs. wait for insurance payment, send out statement, wait for patient payment, send out another statement, etc. Once front-end staff see the work savings in non-assignment, they can easily learn the script to graciously inform the patient of the new policy and how it is easier for the patient. We have much less than 10% on assignment. The transition took 6 months as we informed patient that today we will do assignment but further appointments will be paid on day of service, we will submit your insurance forms and you should be paid within 2-5 days. Did we lose any patients? Perhaps a few but it made little difference.

        1. VR September 18, 2014

          Thanks for the reply. What I really was trying to get at was how to address this as a group of dentists. Again, we were non-assignment but saw a drop in traffic due to not taking assignment. We were previously assignment and now back to it again as it has improved our new patient flow in these troubled financial times.

      2. RDS September 23, 2014

        ODA has been promoting this for over forty years….we did publish a ‘how to’ booklet on how to get off assignment and that was before credit cards…not is much easier.

  10. Jon September 17, 2014

    As someone who has worked in the US and knows all that insurance companies have done to destroy dentistry in the US – please listen carefully – the more control you hand over to insurance companies, the more they will dictate things – including the fees you can charge.

    Talk to any US dentist about PPOs etc and what they have done to decimate dentistry.

    It’s vital for dentists in Canada to stand up to the non-sense of insurance companies and simply go non-assignment – it’s less liability, less paperwork, and you remain in control.

    As a recent example, insurance companies now rank dentists in the US based on fees – i.e. lower their fees, higher ranking they get, and they refer their policy holders to go to higher rank dentists – race to the bottom is what they want.

  11. smart meow September 25, 2014

    To accomplish this task, every licensed dentist has to not accept assignment. The only way this can be done is to make all the provinces’ college of dental surgeons making new bylaws saying that it is considered a malpractice of accepting assignment as it contradicts the autonomy and beneficent and well being of your great colleagues. Just like not accepting copay, accepting assignment should be ban similarly. Reprimand license and penalty need to be enforced to make dentists not stepping on each other.

    1. VR September 25, 2014

      Now that’s what I wanted to hear. However, the colleges are mandated to protect the public, so they need to understand that it’s in the best interest of the patients to have dentists not worry about dealing with the insurance companies. I’m sure some of these unnecessary dealings lead some dentists to not take the co-pays as I know there are at least a few in the Toronto area that do this. Extremely disappointing and disgusting.

      1. VR September 27, 2014

        Just found out my staff wants to do Claimsecure as ETF. They are trying to charge us $2.50 per cheque sent out to us! We should see if our associations should consider legal action as this is unfair if they don’t charge patients. We do a small percentage with them so perhaps I will ensure they are off modified assignment.

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