As per the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recent article, some of the biggest credit-reporting firms will remove most types of medical debt from consumers’ credit reports beginning July 2022. Although this may be good news for people who might otherwise never miss a debt payment, it could spell trouble for medical practices trying to collect patient payments. It’s possible that patients may be less likely to pay for medical services considering these changes.
Patients may also be slower to pay, knowing that their debt won’t appear on a credit report for a long time after they see their provider. This could potentially cause cashflow problems for medical practices and particularly those still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we shared basic tips which will help in collecting patient payments quickly.
Before every patient visit, you need to have a benefits/ insurance coverage report. The insurance coverage report will explain covered services (procedure code-wise), along with co-payment and unpaid deductible amounts. You can share billing estimates with patients prior to their visit. With well-explained billing estimates patients are mentally prepared to make payments, at the time of visit only.
Educating patients is a crucial step in collecting patient payments. As mentioned earlier, a well-informed patient is likely to make complete payments at the time of visit only. For front desk team must be well informed and skilled to understand insurance coverage reports as they need to explain them to patients. For example, patients may not understand why they need to pay for a telephone appointment or why a telehealth visit costs the same as an in-person one. Explain that these services require provider time and expertise, which is why payers consider them compensable.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), roughly 20 percent of U.S. households report that they have medical debt. However, some estimates are even higher. For example, debt.com reports that 50 percent of Americans carried some type of medical debt in 2021 with about a third (34 percent) of those individuals owing between $1,000 and $5,000. You don’t want patients to forgo or delay care because they can’t afford it. The longer it takes patients to pay off their debt, the less value that money has to the practice because of overhead, salaries, and other expenses.
Be empathetic for the collection of patient responsibility after a patient has left the provider's office. Share statements with patients, make a clear and concise collection call, and answer any questions they might have. To minimize questions, be sure to send a clear and concise invoice. This includes the service date, location, provider, description of the service rendered, amount insurance paid (including primary and any secondary insurance), and the amount the patient owes. Clearly differentiate between co-payment and co-insurance amounts.
This enables practices to simply charge the card once a patient responsibility is assigned. If your practice intends to accept card payments as well as store, process, and transmit cardholder data, you need to host your data securely with a Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant hosting provider that ensures the data is encrypted, password-protected, and compliant with PCI Data Security Standards. These standards cover the technical aspects of handling and managing cardholder data. But it's really important as it ensures patient payments for every delivered service.
A medical billing company can assist you in various ways. Many practices may have laid off staff when patient volumes decreased. However, once volumes resume, they need to make sure they have enough staff for timely billing and collections. In some cases, it may make more sense to outsource revenue cycle management (RCM) to a company that is a branded extension of the practice and staff. Medical billing companies can share benefits reports prior to patient visits and can also email patient statements. Working with medical billing company also helps practices avoid internal staffing challenges.
Medical Billers and Coders (MBC) is a leading medical billing company providing complete revenue cycle solutions. We hope that some of the tips on collecting patient payments would be helpful for your practice amid upcoming changes. If you need any assistance in medical billing for your practice, contact us at email@example.com/888-357-3226.