Medical billing collections use is growing, as many doctor’s offices, medical facilities and hospitals confront ever-increasing past due debts from slow paying patients and back-logged insurance claims. Along with over 40 million Americans without any health insurance, a slow economy due to recession, and growing unemployment, means shrinking positive cash flow for medical professionals. Given that prognosis, there are a number of things you can implement to increase your internal medical billing collections. By putting these six tactics into place, you can greatly improve your financial bottom line.
1. Be sure you have a clear payment procedure, placed visibly at the front of your office. New patients need to understand clearly what, if any, payment is expected upfront, in regards to co-pays, etc. This should be understood BEFORE rendering service.
2. It’s very important that you get accurate patient information during that first doctor visit. Get the patient’s full name, address, date of birth, home, work and cell phone numbers. Get their work information: address, phone number(s), position/title, manager/supervisor, etc. Clearly, the more information you can get here, the better. While some patients may balk at giving their social security number, its still a good idea, especially if the account has to be turned over later to a collection agency.
3. If the patient has health insurance, its important to verify at this point. While a doctor’s office can get quite hectic, this crucial step shouldn’t be overlooked. Verifying coverage will avoid headaches later on.
4. In the initial patient application, be sure to clearly detail the patients’ responsibility for payment. You might also consider including language that should the account have to be turned over to a collection agency for non-payment, the patient will be responsible for collection costs. In some states, the business can recoup their costs for hiring a collections agency, if it is stated in the patient-signed application upfront. (Check with your attorney about this, as state laws vary)
5. Allow patients to make payment arrangements for those going through financial difficulties. Because so many are either uninsured or under-insured, making reasonable payment arrangements via installments gives them more options, and greater peace of mind. It will also help generate cash flow to your practice.
6. Know when its time to relinquish those difficult problem accounts, and turn them over to a debt collection agency. As discussed earlier, many patients are facing greater financial burdens, because of higher unemployment, a slow economy and recession, making it increasingly difficult to pay for the high costs of health care.
Most people intend to do the right thing and honoring their debt obligations. But the reality is that some others are less responsible. By using the before-mentioned procedures, consistently and early on, you can better identify the patients experiencing temporary financial problems from the “problem” delinquent accounts. Payment arrangements, and continued communications can better address those problems. With that, the more problem, non-paying clients have to be identified earlier as well. These are the ones to be outsourced to professional collection agencies who are better equipped to handle these types of accounts.
Failing to do so means wasting valuable time, labor and money dealing with difficult accounts. You can’t afford to waste time here, because the longer an account goes unpaid, the lesser the likelihood of getting paid at all. By placing these accounts earlier, you greatly increase your opportunity for getting a great deal, or at least some of your money. As a general rule, after 90 days of non-payment, medical billing collections should be turned over to a collection agency. These simple, but very important tips are very effective in shrinking your medical billing delinquencies. Put into consistent practice, you can greatly improve your medical billing collections.