Boosting Patient Collections Up Front

Closeup of a Dollar - billing for ophthalmology servicesWith rising out of pocket costs in the healthcare system, the shift to patient financial responsibility is increasing. A Kaiser Family Foundation found the average deductible increased 32% from 2009 to 2014. Educating front desk staff, insurance verification, and a clear office financial policy are important components in collecting payments up front. Any of these small tweaks can make a positive impact to the overall financial health of your practice.

  • Communicating with patients about their insurance coverage is an integral part of collecting fees up front. Staff should be checking insurance eligibility 24-48 hours prior to the patients visit. Train your staff to ask the patient if they have a new insurance policy. Don’t rely on the patient to let you know what their current coverage is. Be sure you are making a copy of all insurance cards to make the billing process efficient.
  • Have a financial policy. Make financial policies clear-cut and specific. Proper communication helps set the right expectations between the patient and staff. Collections, co-payments, and other payment policies must be in terms that are easily understood. To ensure effective financial policies, staff should be properly trained and understand what is expected of them. At the end of the day you are running a business and the financial health of your practice is crucial.
  • Provide price transparency and collect a pre-surgical deposit. Giving patients figures and data will help them determine how they can pay for their care. Offer payment options such as credit cards and Care Credit. Make sure you have verified with the insurance company whether pre-authorization is required for surgery.
  • All co-payments and fees for non-covered services should be collected up front at the time of service. Collecting prior to the visit reduces headache at the end of the visit. When calling patients for their appointment reminder, let them know they need to be prepared to pay their co-payments, deductibles, non-covered services such as refractions, and all past due balances. With rising out of pocket costs, the number of patients who have balances after their insurance processes the claim is increasing. If you do not have proper billing and collection processes in place, your accounts receivable will increase. As your accounts receivable ages, the possibility of collecting money decreases.

Closeup of a dollar.

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