As a longtime client, I'm disappointed for a second time. We sent our 16-year-old in for her first trip to dentist alone -- and, admittedly, we were not very organized. We were just back from a trip and had switched dental insurers days earlier. My wife, a newly hired teacher, had not yet received our new insurance card. The Smiles office professional called me to explain that below-18s need a consent form and that our previous coverage was no longer in force. The office pro and I managed the consent and, after some back and forth, agreed that my wife would call tomorrow with the new insurance information -- and that Smiles would "cover us" until the next day (reluctantly, judging from the frustration in my counterpart's voice). We have been clients for years and invested in orthodontics for all three kids (spending north of $12K out of or pocket with Smiles of Austin). After work, I let my wife know we needed to get Smiles the new insurance information. But the same office professional called my wife on her cell at work after speaking to me. Since my wife was between classes and had not time to track down insurance, she wound up paying for the visit with a credit card, putting the onus on us to submit to insurance. That is not what we agreed to while speaking to each other. (Ultimately, this is a relatively small problem, but a weak move, given our loyalty and outlay.)
This is the second office issue I've had in 2017. Earlier this year, I called to find out which dental insurance plans Smiles covered. An office person told me that they accepted a specific BCBS plan. We later discovered that this was not the case, so we have paid out of pocket for basic check-ups this year. Over the years, I think we've received great dental care; the kids love the sweet charm and skill of the folks on the case side. However, the administrative interactions show disregard for the client's challenges with insurance (which can be significant for the self-employed, entrepreneurs and others on the individual market).