High-deductible insurance plans can be affordable on a monthly basis but mean that patients have high out-of-pocket costs for their appointments, prescriptions and medical procedures. This increases the amount of unpaid patient bills and negatively impacts bottom lines for physician practices and health systems. It is critical for them to collect patients’ out-of-pocket payments upfront in order to improve cash flow.
Here are 5 ways to effectively collect patient payments:
Let patients know what they will owe before the visit
You can save a lot of time and money by informing patients that they will be responsible for a deductible and/or coinsurance payment ahead of their visit. Your staff can contact patients prior to their scheduled appointments or procedures to confirm how much they will owe for the visit. You can also keep patients’ credit card information on file to ensure payment for medical services. Having a workflow in place helps you better collect patient payments due at the time of service and increases cash flow.
Check insurance eligibility and benefits ahead of time
Your front-end office staff can check with insurance carriers on the eligibility and benefits of patients prior to visits. Verifying your patients’ benefits information reduces your claim denials, improves your staff efficiency and lowers billing & collections costs.
Provide estimates of patient financial responsibility
Use cost-of-care estimation tools to give accurate patient payment estimates as early as possible. These tools provide a true estimate of what your patient’s insurer will cover and what portion is due from the patient. By sharing the estimate with your patients, you’ll help them make more informed decisions, improve the patient experience, and avoid any surprise medical bills. Today, 63 percent of healthcare providers use cost-of-care estimation tools as a means of prompting patient payment and improving patient satisfaction.
Make it easier for patients to pay
93 percent of healthcare providers offer an online payment tool to enable patient payment. You can encourage patients to pay through your patient portal and offer financial counseling or information about any available payment plans, if needed. You can also let patients pay over the phone using interactive voice technology or pay via check through the mail. The key is to offer multiple options so you can capture payments faster. Helping patients to pay promotes a healthy relationship and ensures that patients choose your practice again for their healthcare needs.
Get buy-in from your staff
Engage staff at all levels of the practice to work towards a successful patient collections process. Be sure to explain the benefits of a point-of-service collections strategy to get your staff’s commitment. Front-end and back-end staff can also teach each other about their jobs so that they can understand how billers, schedulers and registration staff work. This knowledge-sharing technique makes everyone work better as a team and can significantly increase your POS collections. Also, regularly share feedback and use ongoing communication to enhance your collection workflows.