America's Health Insurance Plan Census of Health savings account clearly showed the growth of high-deductible health plans. The number reached around 10.7 million in January 2015. These high-deductible health plans combined with economic downturn has made payment responsibility heavily shifting towards the patient and thus made collecting fees a growing challenge for medical services.
Apart from that, millions of Americans who are entering the insurance market for the first time under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) face higher out-of-pocket costs for these new health plans, thus directly impacting the practice's finances and increasing their bad debt percent year on year.
As a result, the practices need to shift their focus on collecting up-front and refining their billing strategies.
Below are some of the smart strategies to improve your practice's finances:
Set clear financial policies:
It's important to set clear guidelines and policies that everyone in your practice is aware of and knows how to enforce.
These guidelines could be:
Checking coverage of patients and their insurance eligibility before scheduling any appointments. If a procedure is not covered, make sure your patient are aware of it and the out-of-pocket costs that are involved in the same.
Ensure the payment arrangements are made by the patient before coming for appointment
Put visible signs in your office that clearly states the payment policy.
Train your front office staff. Provide them with a detailed description related to confirming appointments and to be used while calling the patients to collect overdue.
Communicate all your policies clearly and in advance. Make sure any form that a patient signs contains points related to an interest on outstanding balances to be charged etc.
In maximum cases, patients tend to have an incomplete understanding of their insurance policies which may lead to surprise charges which they are unable to pay. These misunderstandings of payment policies, deductibles and copays can be avoided by allocating time for patient education. This education will make a big impact on payment collections.
Offer easier payment options:
Offer online payment options; accept all credit, debit cards and checks. In addition, opt for services such as Paypal, Square or iPads with a credit card attachment to eliminate the need for traditional credit card machines. Most patients may be willing to pay but may not have full means to do so right away. With the payment options, patients will feel more comfortable and confident to pay for their treatments thus reducing the outstanding payments for your practice. This surely is the right solution and meets a patient's expectations in the digital era of healthcare industry.
Limit outstanding balance:
It takes perseverance to collect overdue payments. Regular communication will convince the patients to settle their outstanding bill. Many practices today, realize the importance of hiring a billing specialist to take care of their outstanding balance than hiring a full-time employee to go after the money.
Outsourcing medical billing services:
If your staff seems to be overwhelmed with the tasks of billing and collecting, outsourcing medical billing services to a partner and shifting the task of collection to a billing specialist is a good step. These medical billing professionals will bill patients and contact them regularly for their overdue bills. Outsourcing these medical services will help in reassigning other important in-house tasks to your existing resources.
Published By - Medical Billers and Coders
Published Date - Feb-02-2017