What Are the Right Approaches To Collect Patient Balances in Medical Billing?

In the face of declining admissions and increasing expenses are you finding yourself up against the wall?

It’s time to take action. As the evolution in the healthcare industry is having a trickle-down impact on the bottom line of medical practices. Healthcare providers are seeing a rise in patient responsibility balances as deductibles are increasing which is provoking more extended healthcare expenses to insignificantly turn towards the responsibility of patients.

Medical professionals are continually striving to get paid and as the changes occur, it has become quite difficult to collect high out-of-pocket expenses from the patients. According to a report, practitioners merely collect outstanding balances of 13% at the standard service time and 66% of the time they collect nothing. So, they must discover steps to collect on these balances to produce more income. They must look for ways to improve their collection strategy

Why Medical Billing & Collections Are Significant?

Several patients having in collections medical debts ordinarily pay their finances on time and show no other indication of financial distress. In comparison to those of the patients having no evidence of past delinquencies with just medical collection tradelines, nearly fifty percent have clean credit reports. Consider optimizing your collection and medical billing processes to enable these patients to pay, improve their healthcare experience, and increase revenue at your medical organization.

Perhaps, the collection and medical billing is an intricate procedure that needs efficiency to fuel your cash flow. You will improve time management and boost revenue streams when your billing workflow will be streamlined. The fact is that you can hinder and foster your patients’ trust or either relieve or increase your headaches with the help of accurate medical billing & collection processes, or vice versa.

Deductibles Are Growing- Is It An Illusion?

The biggest success of ACA was allowing patients to access their health coverage. The rate of uninsured patients was 12% in April 2013 which went down to 19% later that year. Besides, at the exact time, the payers were pushing high expenses and high deductibles gradually yet continuously to the patients. For the employer-sponsored health plans, KFF researchers found the average deductible for single coverage in 2016 rose to one thousand, four hundred seventy-eight US dollars, which was exactly 12%. Moreover, in the same year with an annual deductible general of one thousand US dollars, an average of 51% of workers was covered by a health plan- a high from 2009 of 22%. With this increment in deductibles, the growth of the national economy also started to outpace. For employer-sponsored coverage, KFF found, rise in inflation of 1.1%, increased annual family premiums of 3%, and an increase in workers’ wages of 2.5%.

At this point, patients find themselves in a dilemma over out-of-pocket medical costs due to certain insurance and economic trends. Sadly, insurance products are difficult to understand like HDHPs (high deductible health plans). Patients think they have complete coverage and sign up on a health insurance exchange for coverage but eventually have a high deductible. So, if they receive a medical bill that they didn’t expect this will result in sticker shock.

It will increase the financial risk for everyone. As fully covered patients and patients with high deductibles may seem similar when they go into care settings to represent themselves. Healthcare providers think they will get paid according to the contracted rates of the payers while in the actual fact patients haven’t yet met their deductibles and providers have to end up holding the bag.

Patient balances in nature can be uncomfortable, although specific tactics similar to the ones discussed beneath can assist you to grow your collection stats.

Transparent Billing Policies

The major reason oftentimes patients don’t pay their bills is that they don’t even know what the actual cost is?

And the fact is often before going for a procedure a patient is unaware of its expense beyond budget. To prevent such situations, it is recommended to talk to your patients about each procedural expense. You should be transparent about your payment collection policies and also explain staff procedures and the due date of the payments. When you have this detailed discussion with your patients- this will help them to comprehend what they will owe before the specific procedure.

Recruit Qualified Billers

Medical billing requires a robust skill-set and appropriate credentials so you can say it is a challenging task. Sadly, it involves more questions for effectively collecting patients’ payments than asking ‘’ Do you pay your payments now?’’.

You must assure that you have professional or skilled medical billers- who have extensive industry experience and comprehensive understanding to gather patients’ payments completely. In addition to this, if you are handling the medical billing in-house, you must assure that your employees are trained enough according to the latest industry regulations. On top of that, the ideal way to assure your staff is collecting maximum patients balances and enhancing revenue streams is to outsource a reputable medical billing agency.

Efficient Practice Management System

When it comes to effectively collecting patient balances the lifesaving way is to utilize medical billing or practice management systems exquisitely. Your backend staff can comfortably access outstanding balances, patients accounts, submitted medical claims, with the help of these automated frameworks. These systems also ‘’ping’’ patients a reminder to pay their bills and alert you when they have outstanding bills. So, if you are using an outdated system then it’s the right time to upgrade your system to meet the latest market demands and stay competitive in the market.

Using Online Patient Portal For Collections

The key to perfectly collecting patients’ balances is to give them a convenient and easy way to pay their bills. It is very surprising but true, numerous patients skip paying bills if they need to visit clinics in person, mail in a check, call the provider’s office, etc. Though it may seem improbable, setting up an online patient portal can not only ease patients’ lives but providers too. Patients can log in easily and submit payments by entering their billing data properly.

Use Patient Notification System

Utilizing automated technology can notify patients when they are having outstanding balances. Many systems have built-in options while many have not. It helps you to remind patients to pay their bills via email, phone, text message, etc. You can also add more data if you want like;

  • How to pay the bill?
  • How many days are left to pay the bill?
  • What is the payment due date?
  • What are the current late fees of patients?
  • What is the total number of days the payment is “late?

Review Overdue Payments

It could be possible you can have more overdue payments while you are extremely busy handling billing operations. Just remember, your healthcare practice can lose hard-earned money if you have a blind eye to patients’ balances. You should schedule daily meetings with your staff to stay updated about your revenue cycle management and overdue balances. Review percentage of denied claims and percentage of overdue/unpaid patients bills to stop the revenue leakage.

Provide Supplementary Payment Options

Offer an alternative and additional payment options to your patients if they struggle to pay their bills. For example, a few patients require little time to collect money for the expensive procedures and they fully intend to pay their bills. Thereby, various payment plans enable providers to get the entirety of the bill and the patients to pay their bills over time.

Your Billing Staff Has the Incentive

Often, the billing staff doesn’t have the incentive so they can’t keep a track of patients to make them pay their bills. It can be tiring to keep tracking the patients to pay plus you are paying your staff a fixed salary at the end of the day. Contrary to this, outsourced billing experts operate at a particular model of ‘’percentage of reimbursement’’. It means once the patients will pay their bills you will get paid after that. Consequently, this will assure billing staff can collect patient balances completely and provide them a huge incentive to be persistent with patients.

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