Credit Cards on File to Reduce Time in Practice Receivables

March 7, 2019

Are you facing an increase in A/R costs? Changing your processes to include electronically storing patient credit card numbers could help you to reverse that trend. This could potentially trim days in A/R from 90 to 30. By the time the insurance company responds to a claim, you may already be approaching 90 days in A/R. But for the out-of-pocket portion, having a card on file can reduce days in A/R to only 30. A card on file can also automate patient payment plans, and an online payment portal provides an added convenience for patients.

How to craft your financial policy

Having a card on file removes an obstacle to receiving payment, and patients knowing that a card is on file adds a layer of financial responsibility. They can’t just ignore the balance. Make sure that your patients sign a pre-authorization form. Your form should include:

  • The patient’s name
  • Type of credit card
  • Billing address
  • Credit card number
  • CVV on the back
  • Expiration date

The form can also allow the patient to elect to be billed by a mailed paper statement with the stipulation that if payment is not received by the due date, then the credit card on file will be charged.

Got more questions about getting cards on file? Here are some answers:

Keep it simple and direct. To avoid offending your patients, put it in your financial policy in bold print and explain it as a service to help avoid billing hassles when the remaining balance comes due.

Inform patients of account balances. After the insurance responds and to avoid surprising patients with charges, let them know that you would like to bill for a balance to the card within 48 hours. Treat it as a courtesy and give them time to provide another form of payment.

Scan credit card information into your EHR. Then, destroy hard copies for an added layer of security. Call your merchant services company (the one that gave you the card readers) to ask about features that protect stored information. This not only streamlines the process but also transfers the security responsibility.

Be firm and consistent. Don’t present the policy as an option but be willing to address it on a case-by-case basis. Some patients aren’t certain of their future financial stability and simply will not comply with the policy. Avoid opposition. Have them sign a financial responsibility form that promises to pay within 15 days of receiving the bill.

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