With more and more patients moving to a high deductible health insurance plan, it is becoming increasingly important to make sure that those patients pay their deductibles on time and in full. Though a portion (ideally no higher than 4 to 6%) will become bad debt and be written off, to keep your practice healthy, you will need to encourage your patients to pay these deductibles and make that payment process easy and as pain-free as possible.
Arguably, your first job is to keep a healthy, positive relationship with your patients and their families. Their health and well being are almost certainly the reason you went into medicine in the first place.
But if you don’t also collect on your bills, you won’t have a practice and won’t be able to continue to help your patients.
There are a few ways to do this that keep healthy boundaries for your practice while also acting in as compassionate a manner as possible.
1. Outsource Your Medical Billing
First, consider outsourcing your billing. One reason to do this is to maintain a healthy split between the caring relationship you want to foster in your practice — from front desk staff to nurses and doctors. These relationships should ideally focus on patients’ physical and mental health, not their fiscal health.
2. Use a Credit Card on File Program
Second, offer a credit card on file system to easily and seamlessly set up monthly payment plans when needed. For a high deductible patient, this is going to be more necessary than with your other patients.
3. Train Your Front Desk Staff
Third, train your front desk staff to screen insurance payment information at the start. When your high deductible patient presents, make sure to check hospital coverage and other services they might need.
In fact, even if you have missed checking before services have been performed, sooner is better than later. Knowing insurance problems before the claim is transmitted rather than when it comes bouncing back to you will greatly reduce inefficiencies in your billing cycle.
One important step in encouraging and collecting bill payments from all patients, but especially from those with a high deductible insurance policy is ensuring that you have a fully integrated patient management system combined with an electronic health records system. These two make online bill payment easy and effortless, especially when combined with a credit card on file (CCOF) system.
Automating bill payment and setting up monthly payment plans that patients can agree to and keep up with will reduce stress for both your patients and your practice.
Most online systems enable patients to check their balances, look at receipts and interact with their statements online. When choosing an online bill payment system, make sure that these options are available.
This should not be discounted. Ideally through an online electronic health record/patient management system, allowing your patients access to their statements online and in an easy to read format will greatly help collecting from them. Especially with high deductible insurance patients, knowing what services have been performed and when will help patients understand what needs to be paid and when.
At the end of the day, the question you should ask is whether your current RCM system is working for you. If so, you need not change anything. If, however, you are finding that your high deductible patients are unable to pay their bills, take a look at your process and see if there are ways you can help ensure that bills get paid in full and on time.