The beginning of a new calendar year is the perfect time to roll out a new financial policy to patients. Far too often practices fail to understand the importance of having a detailed policy that plainly explains what is expected of patients from a financial perspective. There are several questions that a practice should consider when considering changes in their financial policy:
- Does it explain in detail how unpaid patient balances will be handled?
- What are the terms for paying a balance?
- Are payment arrangements available?
- Does it specify exact fees that will be charged on unpaid balances after a certain aging date?
- Does it detail a specific collection fee charge for balances sent to collections?
- Details on who is responsible for outstanding balances for minors are handled? (ie, divorce decree, parent/guardian bringing minor in for visit, etc).
Another major area where practices fall short is having a strong financial policy is making sure it is signed/dated by the patient. We also recommend that the patient be required to initial each bullet/section of the policy acknowledging they have reviewed each area. If a patient does not complete all required sections make sure it’s given back to them to complete.
In the end make sure your practice has a strong financial policy in place. More importantly stick to the terms of the policy. It may take some time to get all patients on board with changes but in the long run your practice will reap the benefits of a strong financial policy.