Growing Your Practice

Why does my patient have a balance? And other Account Questions.

balanceWhen there is a balance on a patient account, you want to be able to quickly determine where the balance is coming from, and collect the correct amount from your patient. In this post, we’ll look at why your patient may have a balance, as well as other account questions that may come up as you manage patient accounts.

My patient has a balance, but I don’t know why….

You received the insurance payment. You collected the patient portion. But there is still a balance on the patient’s account. Here’s how you find out why.

Run the Patient Portion Uncollected report.

The Patient Portion Uncollected report displays patients who have had a procedure completed within the date range, that still has a patient portion associated.

Now, find the patient’s name to quickly see the specific procedures that have a remaining balance due.

Maybe the patient doesn’t owe, but Open Dental thinks they do. Pull out the EOB (or go into the claim and open the EOB you’ve attached there) to make sure the insurance payment and write-offs were entered correctly. Then, make sure any patient payments are properly allocated to the procedure.

There are a lot of numbers on the account, which do I use to determine the patient portion?

We’ll break down each balance below.


These numbers display the full family balance before any insurance estimates or write-offs are considered.
Note: In the Aging grid, the balance may be broken up between aging brackets.

These numbers display the full patient balance before any insurance estimates or write-offs are considered.

This is the estimated patient portion for all family members. It includes write-offs and insurance estimates. Remember, claims must be created for this number to update. You will want to run the Procedures Not Billed to Insurance Report regularly to ensure all procedures have been included on claims.

This is the estimated patient portion for the selected patient only. Again, remember to make sure all procedures are on a claim for this number to be updated.

We have our patients pre-pay for treatment. How can I determine the patient portion before their appointment?

To do this, there are a few things that must be in place:

  • Insurance information must be entered in Open Dental and have accurate benefit information.
  • Fee schedules must be entered and attached to the insurance plan.
  • Procedures must be treatment planned.
  • Procedures must be attached to the appointment.

When these four things in place, you can view the Estimated Patient Portion within the appointment. Double-click the appointment to view.

In the upper right, the Est. Patient Portion will display. This is the estimated patient portion for all procedures attached to the appointment.


  • If procedure information changes (such as fees, insurance estimates, etc), you must first go into the Treatment Plan. Then, the appointment will update.
  • The Family Balance displays the amount currently due in the Account. It does not include the estimates from today

TECH TIP:  Add the Estimated Patient Portion to your Appointment View! Follow the steps here and add EstPatientPortion from the list of available rows.

Related Resources:
You may also want to check out our post, Breaking Down Patient Statements.


These steps should help you quickly identify the true patient or family balance when they call to make a payment, or when your front desk is checking them out after their appointment. As always, if you have any questions about this or any other area of Open Dental, our Technical Support team is here for you!

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