7 Tips To Get Patients To Pay Their Bill

Patient billing can be a nightmare for some providers’ offices or medical billing services. It’s a pain in the butt to get the statements all prepared, stuff the envelopes, put on the postage, etc. only to find that many patients just ignore them. But there are things that you can do to increase the number of patients who pay their bills so that you don’t have as many to send out each month. The following tips will help to keep your patients’ receivables under control:

1. Send statements out regularly. When patients receive regular statements they know that the providers office is diligent in collecting amounts due and they are more likely to pay. If they receive statements sporadically they are less likely to take them seriously.

2. Check the statements over before mailing them. Make sure the statements are accurate. If the patient doesn’t think that the statement is correct, they most like won’t pay.

3. Put appropriate notes on the statements. For example, if you’ve already billed the patient for these services but didn’t get a response put a 2nd notice or a friendly reminder on the statements. Something like “Friendly Reminder! We’ve previously billed you for these charges with no response.” Or “Second Notice. We have not heard from you regarding your past due account.” Just something to let them know that you are paying attention.

4. Make sure statements are clear and easy to read. A confusing statement leaves a confused patient. A confused patient is less likely to pay their bill. The amount due should be clearly visible.

5. Indicate the reason the patient is being billed. If the bill clearly indicates what it’s for and why the patient owes it the patient is more likely to pay it. For example, if the patient has a deductible and the services were applied to that deductible, the bill should show that. Then the patient will know that their insurance processed the claim to their deductible and that they owe the provider. Whatever the patient is being billed for should be show clearly on the bill.

6. Include a return envelope. Patients are more likely to write out a check and stick it in the return envelope than they are to get an envelope, address it, stamp it, and mail it. You don’t have to put postage on it, just include the envelope so that they don’t have to get an envelope and address it. You don’t have to pay for expensive return envelopes. You could just get inexpensive white envelopes and stick an Avery label on it with the office address.

7. Collect patient responsibilities at the time of service whenever possible. If the patient has a set copay or patient responsibility it should be collected at the time of their visit. This prevents a statement from having to be sent. Patients are more willing to pay for services before they are seen by the provider. And patients with copays know that they are due at the time of service. Put a system in place at the front desk to collect patient responsibilities.

Patient billing doesn’t have to be such a hassle. Setting up an effective system for patient billing can improve the response, and keep patient receivables under control. It will also reduce the amount of write offs or uncollectable debts. Follow the 7 tips above and get your patient billing under control today.

Stop the Increase in Medicare Denials

Have you been noticing an increase in denials from Medicare lately?  We have been getting an unprecedented amount of denials for “name and ID# do not match”.  We are getting these denials on claims for mental health providers who have been seeing and getting paid on claims for these same patients for months or even years.  Why now are these claims denying for name and ID do not match?  Good question.  It is not easy to find the answer.  We’ve called Medicare several times and were told that the name and ID do not match.  That’s all they would tell us – same thing the eob told us.  We would explain that we were paid for previous dates but it didn’t matter to the representative.  The name and ID did not match.

Finally we got to the bottom of this challenge!  We eventually talked to a helpful representative who gave us the answer.  It seems to be due to a change in their processing guidelines.  Any claim now submitted to Medicare must be entered exactly as the ID card shows.  If there is a middle initial, your claim must have a middle initial.  If there is a hyphenated name, the hyphen must be included. If there is a space, the space must be included.  If you have misspelled the name, the claim will be denied.  It is now extremely important to get a copy of the patient’s ID card so you can be sure you have it exactly as represented on the card.  In fact we have had claims denied that did match exactly.  Only after speaking to a representative and proving the claim matched the ID card would Medicare pay.

We have also found Medicare claims denied and the patient name on the denial completely different than the name we submitted.  When we called on this claim and the representative looked at it we were told that they could see that we submitted with the correct name and they weren’t sure what changed it in the system, but they would reprocess.  It seems to us that Medicare is making it harder than ever to get claims correctly processed.  Maybe it is a money saving technique on their part.  If your office is not following up on these denials and running regular aging reports you are losing lots of money.

Make sure your office is not missing out on payment for these claims.  Take care of the denials by whatever steps are necessary.  Run and work regular aging reports to avoid timely filing issues.  If you run a billing service, this is a great way to stand out above others.  Make sure you quickly remedy these issues.  Ask your providers for copies of each patient’s ID cards and keep them on file.  When you get any denials act on them immediately.  Don’t put them away for when you have time.  These problems need to be dealt with quickly.