Even before the enactment of the ACA patient responsibilities were increasing. However with the ACA plans we are seeing them climb ever higher. It is not uncommon to see $40 or $50 co-pays and $2500 deductibles. With patient responsibilities rising it is becoming crucial for providers to improve their patient payment collections.
In the past when most of a visit was paid by insurance this was not as important. Now it is not uncommon for the entire allowed amount to be the responsibility of the patient so providers cannot afford to not collect the patient portions.
With the technology available, providers now have more options.
- Most important is sending patient statements on a regular monthly basis
- Co-pays should be collected at the time of service and should not require sending a statement except in unusual situations
- Patient statements can now be sent by email cutting down on costs
- Statements can be sent with a place for the patient to enter credit card information to pay the balance.
- A patient portal can be set up on a website to accept electronic payments over the internet.
- If time allows in the office patients should be called to remind them of past due balances and an attempt should be made to set up payment arrangements
- Providers can consider using “soft collections” through a collection agency where the collection agency makes several calls and sends letters over a brief period of time attempting to set up payment arrangements.
People are more accustomed to making payments by EFT or paying bills online with a credit card. It is important that providers give patients convenient ways to make their payment.