Handling patients your physician practice sends to collections

A recent question I received:

We are interested to know how you handle patients that a medical practice sends to collections. Are they also discharged? If not discharged, do you schedule services if they have an outstanding balance? Do you only send accounts to collections over a certain dollar amount? Do you only discharge over a certain dollar amount?

Sending patients to collections for medical bills just doesn't have the same oomph that it used to. You might want to write off the balance off to bad debt (as you would do if you were sending them to collections), then setting an alert that requires payment of the debt before they are seen again is the most efficient protocol. You're glad to have them back as a patient if they would like to satisfy their debt. Save discharging them for non-compliance, abusing the staff, or getting narcotics from multiple practices. Also, taking time to see if the patient needs a hardship discount to adjust the payment to their means is a much better solution than sending them to collections. Give the patient the discount instead of paying the collection agency and it's a win-win!

Have questions? I’m here to help.

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