Overdue patient bills are one of the many challenges you face when you run your own medical practice. Unpaid bills impact your profits and income, and you have to spend time chasing your patients and encouraging them to pay.
Train your front desk staff
One of the best things you can do to encourage patient payment is to train your front desk staff. They should check the patient’s account when the patient checks in. They can politely remind your patient of any past-due amount and ask how they’d like to pay. Asking how the patient would like to pay is more likely to result in payment than a yes or no question. “Do you want to pay your balance today” will most likely elicit a negative response.
Appoint an internal bill collector
You can also train a member of your administrative team to call patients with overdue fees to request payment. This team member should have excellent phone etiquette as well as tenacity, so they don’t take no for an answer.
Have clear rules about payment reminders and consequences
When it comes to patient fees, transparency is critical. Insurance is confusing, and patients may not know that they owe you money. You can include a disclaimer on your website or other materials that makes it clear that any fees not covered by insurance are the patient’s responsibility.
You can also make your collections policies clear. In your new patient forms, include a document that outlines how fees are collected. For example, let them know that they can expect two phone calls and two letters before their accounts are sent to a collections agency and they’re dismissed from your practice. You can also include details such as how non-emergent services will be postponed until the patient pays their overdue balance.
Introduce payment plans
The health insurance market is also becoming competitive, and low-cost insurance plans are flooding the market. The problem is that these plans don’t cover much and your patients end up with unexpected, and often unaffordable fees. You can set up payment plans for patients to make those balances more affordable.
A payment plan can help make healthcare costs more affordable for your patients. It also helps you get more of your fees, while also demonstrating to your patients that you want to help them and work with them.
What if they still won’t pay
Let’s face it. There are situations where a patient can’t or won’t pay. And unfortunately, if they have outstanding bills, and haven’t responded to your office’s attempts to work with them on payment, you don’t have many options.
Turn to collections
You can turn the account over to collections. But bear in mind that most collection agencies only collect an average of 20% of the overdue funds. Also, many agencies take 30-40% in fees. This means that you’re only getting around 12% of what you’re owed. While this is better than nothing, you need to decide if it’s worth it.
Dismiss the patient
You can also dismiss the patient from your practice. You need to have made your payment policies clear. If possible, you should also have tried every avenue to collect their overdue fees. And remember, you need to be available to see the patient for emergencies for 30 days after their dismissal to avoid patient abandonment charges.