Are you collecting all the patient fees that you have earned? Probably not, and in 2020 and beyond, this could mean the difference between your practice making a profit or losing money. But there are some simple ways to increase your patient collections.
Before the Affordable Care Act, typical payments consisted of 10% from the patient and 90% from the payer. After the Affordable Care Act, the distribution changed to 30% from the patient and 70% from the Payer.
But even these numbers are misleading because many patients have high-deductible plans. This increases the patient responsibility along with higher copays and coinsurance.
So how does your practice increase patient collections to get paid for your services. Here are some ideas on how to make sure you get paid for the services you provide.
Make It Easy For Patients To Pay
If you make it easy for patients to pay, you have a better chance of collecting what they owe. National studies show you have a 70% chance of collection at the time of service and only a 30% chance of collection after discharge.
Offer the patients several ways to pay their balance - Credit Cards, Checks, Cash, Patient Portal, and Credit Card on File options are all available to practices to help improve patient collections.
Believe it or not, there are some practices that still refuse to accept Credit Cards as a method of payment. As the old saying goes, this is "penny wise and pound foolish".
The average credit card processing fee is about 3% so for a $30 copay, that amounts to 90 cents. If the patient leaves the office because they only have a credit card with them, sending out patient statements will cost between 1 and 2 dollars so to save 90 cents you lost a dollar or two.
If the patient has a HSA account, they can easily pay with a HSA credit card or pay the hard way - pay it themselves then get an itemized statement from you to submit to their HSA company to be reimbursed for the payment.
Checks are easy to collect but make sure your financial policy has a clause for Returned Checks. Most banks are now charging $30 to $50 for returned checks so it can be costly if you have patients bouncing checks.
Fewer people carry checks these days because they rely more on credit cards so paying by checks is declining.
Cash is the easiest way to collect patient payments but is it the safest? Do you have policies in place to make sure all of the cash collected makes it to the bank to be deposited.
We all want to trust our employees but there are so many stories in the field about cash coming up short, even when you have family members working the front desk.
Make sure your billing company is included in any policies you develop for cash payments. Even though they never touch the cash, they are often the first line of defense since they will take the calls from the patients complaining that they paid their copay but their statements do not show the payment they made.
Patient Portals are the new kid on the block for patient payments. Many patients are asking about this options because they do not like giving out their credit card information over the phone.
With a patient portal, the patient can receive automatic bill notifications, view statements online, view health information, and store their credit card on file so they do not have to enter the card information with every payment.
Credit Card on File
Keeping a credit card on file can ensure patients pay their bills promptly but it comes with risks for the practice. We usually advice practices to use the Patient Portal option instead of the Credit Card on File system because of the potential risk of costly fines.
There are many state and federal rules and regulations concerning Credit Card on File systems so it is best to use a third-party who understands all of the rules and regulations. Be sure to sign a HIPAA business associate agreement with the vendor.
A breach of credit card data is considered a HIPAA violation so the last thing you want to do is keep a list of credit card information in the office. If the practice collects and stores the credit card information, it is responsible for processing and securing the data.
Collect Patient Payments Quickly
The fastest way to collect Patient Payments is to collect at the time of service. You can collect at the front desk using Cash, Checks, and Credit Cards.
If the patient does not pay at time of service, you have increased your costs to collect their payments and you can probably write off up to 30% of the uncollected payments that will never be paid.
If your financial policy allows it, text and email balance due alerts automatically to patients rather than sending out monthly statements. Make sure that your financial policy signed by the patient explicitly allows you to text or email the patient.
Collect Patient Payments Efficiently
Save time and money by reducing the tasks associated with patient collections.
Eliminate the need to send paper statements saving labor, paper, and postage. Statements will take the longest amount of time to be paid and really should be the payment method of last resort.
Reduce phone calls and time wasted on collecting patient balances. If you use a patient portal, the patients can get their information online and do not have to call the practice or billing office to get a copy of their statement or explanation of their balance due.