Collecting deductibles from patients is a difficult task, especially when physicians don’t know exactly if the patient is on deductibles. It means that most of the physicians are losing a major share of their earnings due to low collections from the patients on self-pay. As the employers are moving to higher deductible plans and copays, it’s time for physicians to reconsider their patient collections strategy.
If the fees of a medical treatment provided to a patient is not collected right after, it becomes difficult to collect it afterwards. A practice can either choose to let go the patients and file claims without checking for deductibles. It now depends on how much time the practice takes to submit the claim plus after how many days the insurance company responds to the request. In the end, physicians come to know that the bill cannot be reimbursed because patient is on deductibles. It looks a bit unwise to take this path because longer a payment is due the lesser are the chances of getting it repaid.
Here are a few tips to collect from the patients on deductibles and doing it without spoiling your relationship with them.
Patients are on deductibles in the beginning of the year
Know that if it is the beginning of the year, it is the time when most of the patients have not reached their deductible limit. The majority of the insurance plans are renewed in the beginning of the year. So, be more vigilant in the beginning of the year, ask your patients if they would self-pay otherwise check with their insurance company and share the findings with the patients. Plainly it is the responsibility of the patient to decide of how to pay if the insurance company is not covering the bill.
Check with the insurance company before patient visit
It becomes difficult to differentiate which patient is on deductible or co-pay and who is covered by the insurance because some policies authorize preventive care. It means your front desk should go an extra mile to check with the insurance companies to check for the authorized services. It may require some extra phone calls but it is a sure way to get exact status of the patient deductibles.
Tell patients upfront about the cost
It may look naive but train your front desk to tell the patients with high deductibles about the cost of the medical treatment that they would be paying before leaving. Even practices should communicate it when they are confirming the visit and stay safe from any inappropriate situation. On patient arrival, verify their eligibility and if there are deductibles, share the details with the patients.
Collect deductibles at the time of service
Make this tip a rule to ensure the financial health of your practice. Collecting the deductibles at the time of service will save your practice from all the hassle that your staff would undergo later. If you think it’s impertinent to ask for payments upfront, to your surprise it’s not. Almost all the patients are very much clear about their insurance coverage and they want to keep it muffled until you tell them the status. Telling your patients about the financial responsibility of the services cost is not impolite rather it is the sanest thing that would maximize your collections.
Make practice-wide policy of deductible collections
Train your staff to communicate clearly the organizational policy about deductibles and copay. Patients can come up with many excuses to delay the payment. They might elude your front office by saying that they are not sure and would check with the insurance company. Equip your practice with automated practice management tools, capable of real-time checking patients’ data. Today, EHR systems are capable of getting all the patient information in few seconds. Using such a system, your office can stay updated and can tell the exact status of a patient’s eligibility.
Make payments convenient
Give your patients multiple options to pay for the services upfront. If patients are on deductibles and cash is not available, offer them the convenience of paying with their credit card or any other mode of digital payment.
Follow up deductibles
If still by any chance your patient leaves the practice without paying deductibles. Follow up for the payment by calling them or sending the reminder through phone call and patient statement.
Unpaid patient deductibles can seriously impact the financial health of your practice. To make sure that your practice is not losing earnings, make sure that your front desk staff is well trained and familiar with the organizational policy of collections. It is only possible if an effective billing process is in place and your practice is efficiently utilizing it for collecting patient deductibles.