Time of service collections in today’s health care environment

Updated by Debra Myers on 9/10/2014

Patients have expectations, when they visit their physician, that of high-quality healthcare and prompt service.  With today’s ever-changing healthcare coverage and the limitations due to increased cost shares and higher deductibles, it becomes vital to the financial health of the practice to collect self pay dollars at the time of service.

Communicating the practice’s financial policy early on in the physician/patient relationship will go a long way in educating the expectations of the visit.  Developing a financial policy brochure that is given to each new patient will eliminate confusion after the visit.  Keep these brochures readily available in patient waiting rooms for established patients to understand any changes they may not be accustomed to as an existing patient.

Offering “on-line” payments will increase the practice’s ability to collect balances after insurances have paid.   Patients have the ability to set up direct recurring payments to the practice utilizing the patient portals when on-line payments are available to them.

Patients with no insurance are an exception to many of these collection tips because they don't go through the insurance billing process. Some practices offer a discount for patients who pay in full at the time of service, saving the group time and money because now they don't have the expense of statements. However, be sure to check the language in your payer contracts – you can't charge self-pay patients less than you would charge patients covered by Medicare or commercial payers. If you go this route, develop a written policy for these discounts.

If patients absolutely cannot pay at the time of service, send them home with a payment envelope and let them know they'll see statements, messages and/or calls prompting them to pay.  Payment plans typically require the balance to be paid in full within a reasonable period of time and an acceptable length of time and is driven by the size of the balance.

Healthcare Revenue Logic can assist your practice with developing new workflow processes, based on your practice management system capabilities.   Feel free to contact us at 757-668-8611 with any questions or need assistance.



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