My colleagues and I all agree that if the front desk doesn’t collect the copay at the time of the visit, you’ll be hard-pressed to ever see that payment. If you don’t get the copay by the end of the visit, you have about a 1-in-10 chance that you’ll ever collect that money. By the time you do, you’ve already spent more than that amount trying to collect it in billing costs. So what can you do to improve your chances of collecting a copay?
First, make sure your office has signs up in the check-in area and waiting room stating that you collect copayment at the time of the visit. You can also remind the patients when they check in.
Ask for the copay at check-in time. This way, patients haven’t yet encountered any delays or backups that might make them less inclined to pay, and they aren’t getting a service they haven’t paid for.
Tip: To make sure you’re collecting the right amount of money, be sure to check the patients’ copay amounts, especially if they claim to have forgotten their card. A lot of my clients use a point-of-sale device for checking eligibility and the copay amount for major insurance carriers.
The bottom line is that you must call or check online to make sure a patient has benefits for the date of visit. Online eligibility is better – That way, you can print out proof that you inquired about the patient’s coverage. And you can make these confirmations while the patient waits for his appointment.
If you haven’t asked at check-in, ask for the copay at the end of the visit, and be sure to make payment options clear. When you get the old "I forgot my checkbook" excuse again, let them know that you take debit and credit cards. Push for some kind of payment, and make walking away harder for them.