Any Dentist considering a marketing program should be aware of Federal and State prohibitions on fee splitting and “kickbacks.” The meaning of these terms are quite broad for Dentists, and even a program that allows for a portion of a dental customer’s payment to be shared with a third party violates the anti-kickback statute and possible state anti-fee splitting statutes as well. [42 USC §1320a-7b(b)]. Viva has gone to considerable effort to ensure that its program is in compliance with these rules.
The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits any person from:
"...knowingly and willfully offer[ing] and pay[ing] any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate)... to any person to induce such person... to refer an individual to a person for the furnishing or arranging for the furnishing of any item or service for which payment may be made in whole or in part under a Federal health care program." [42 USC §1320a-7b(b)].
The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct as well as specific laws in each state follow the Federal approach in prohibiting the sharing of patient’s fees with a third party. Click Here for links to the rules in your state
The Viva Program is in compliance with the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the ADA Ethics Code and the laws of each State because Viva does not split fees. Your charge remains the same no matter how many new patients you receive through your use of the Viva Program.
In contrast, in the Viva Referral Card system no compensation from a patient is received by anyone other than the dentist. Viva Dental is paid for the design and production of Viva Cards, for education and training of dental office personnel, and for costs of mailing. Viva does not induce or refer any person to a dentist. This is a key distinction between the legal and ethical Viva Referral Card system and other systems which are inconsistent with the law and ethical standards established by the ADA. [ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct §4.E.1]
Similarly, when Viva Referral Cards are distributed by patients or other third parties to friends and family, they receive no compensation for distributing the Viva Referral Cards. Viva Referral Cards contain an offer redeemable only by the recipient, not by the person making the referral. Consequently, the transaction is that of traditional advertising and is consistent with Federal and State laws related to kickbacks and/or fee splitting.
Note: There are two relevant “Safe Harbor” provisions that allow a Dentist to split fees. First, a referral fee may be made to an employee of the dentist or dental office. [42 USC §1320a-7b(b)(3)(B)]. Second, “a discount or reduction in price” [42 USC §1320a-7b(3)(A)] may be offered. This means that giving a potential patient a reduced price offer is specifically allowed.