As a front-line provider of healthcare services, your organization has probably felt the strain of rising medical costs. A recent survey by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation found that “average family premiums have increased 55 percent, twice as fast as workers’ earnings (26%) and three times as fast as inflation (17%)” over the last decade. With statistics like this, it is no wonder that patients are finding it increasingly difficult to cover co-pay and deductible costs.
When patients are stretched financially, the bitter truth is that they need to choose which bills get paid and which don’t. Creating a constructive dialogue with patients makes it much more likely your office’s bills will make it to the top of the monthly list.
The inherent complications of medical reimbursement can make it challenging for offices to have constructive interactions with patients.
Some simple tips to help create positive financial relationships and work together to reduce A/R:
— Create a policy which informs patients of their financial obligations from the beginning
Pre-authorizations – since the patient is ultimately responsible for payment, it is in his or her best interest to know that pre-authorizations are necessary and must be secured before the office visit or procedure.
Use of a collection agency for past-due accounts – patients appreciate knowing the consequences of unpaid bills. Plus, you are less likely to receive complaints if patients know from the outset a third-party may become involved in debt collection.
What to do if a denial results in the patient being responsible for payment – we recommend language explaining how insurance coverage is a contract between the insurance company and the patient. If a policy does not cover a service, or a service is deemed not medically necessary, there isn’t a way for a provider’s office to rectify the problem if coding is correct.
— Offer payment plans
— Make after-hours transactions easy with web payments and text-to-pay
Patients who work during daytime hours will likely be paying their bills in the evenings or on weekends. With the advent of so many electronic payment options, some patients may not even have checkbooks!
Offering online, over-the-phone and text payment options mean patients can pay when they want to – making payment more likely if they need to choose between your bill and another bill that does not have convenient options.