Collection tips for a physician practice

Collect patient due amounts before and during the service

Patient due balances account for 30% of receivables in many physician offices, and the proportion of patient due balances is growing as patients have higher deductible plans. Besides collecting co-pays at the time of service, collect past due patient amounts.  Have a script and a policy that makes it easy for the front desk to ask for patient balances at the time of service.  Many insurance companies allow medical practices to check on-line to see if the patient has met their deductible, before the service is performed.  Surgical practices should use claims estimators before elective surgery. Claims estimators are a function on a payer’s website that allow the practice to enter in the expected procedures to be performed for that individual patient, and then receive an estimate of the patient due amount for that procedure. Although not 100% accurate in all cases, this gives the practice the opportunity to discuss the cost of the procedure, the amount the insurance is expected to pay, the patient due portion and how it will be paid before the service is performed.  Many surgical groups require a deposit before the surgery and an agreement that the balance will be paid during the global period.  Set up recurring payments (discussed below) for the balance.

Collect patient due amounts after the service

Despite a group’s best efforts, there will be patient due balances.  Consider using recurring credit or debit card payments to save the cost of sending a statement.  Gyms, religious institutions, car finance companies all do it: agree on an amount and deduct it from a bank account or charge a credit card.  This can be more effective than budget payments.  Hey, we work in health care.  Are our gyms more sophisticated than we are?

Recently, my twenty-five year old niece had to pay a bill and she told me, “I don’t have checks for my checking account and they don’t accept on-line payments.”  Most of us have checks for our accounts, but younger patients are using on-line payments with greater frequency.  Make it easy for patients to pay your bill on-line, with debit or credit cards.

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