One thing we are all seeing is the of high deductible insurance coverage. High deductibles have always been around; the difference is this…..volume. In most practices, the volume of high deductibles has been sparse as most patients are either covered by their employers or government in the form of Medicare or Medicaid. This meant that practices could see patients with non-emergency visits and collect whatever the patient said they could pay without affecting the cash flow of the practice. With the advent of the ACA and employer's continuing desire to reduce costs, the volume of patients with high deductibles will inevitably go up and that is a dilemma for many practices.
Each physician practice must take the time and thought needed to develop a policy that works for that practice. Collection of payment at time of service is becoming the most popular and most followed practice. The question with most high deductibles is how much to collect at one time? Projecting cost of treatment at each visit and collecting the estimated amount is a practical solution.
There will always be patients who simply fail to pay for healthcare costs even as there will always be patients who feel the responsibility to pay for treatment and care received but who cannot afford the care and look for alternative payment options. How a practice determines to work with patients with high deductibles or no insurance for payment of services is probably the most needed policy at this moment of time in the business of healthcare discussion. A policy decision based on the values of the practice will be well received by patients if communicated in a straightforward way and applied consistently. Communication to patients is always appreciated by patients. Dealing with individual cases that fall outside the norm should be managed as that….outside the norm.
Take a look at your practices collection policy and determine if it is the right policy going forward.