More About Medical Billing Finances

On March 8th, 2011, posted in: Tips by

You aren’t imaging things. Yearly deductible amounts have increased, so have co-pays. Remember, it is the patient’s contract with the insurance carrier that mandates their compliance with the plan and their responsibility for payment. It is your responsibility to collect (or try to the best of your (our) ability) these fees.

I am making a generalized statement here – most if not all carriers state the patient must pay the co-pay at the time of service. Remind the front desk to ask for the new card, it will (should) indicate if the co-pay amount has changed since the last visit.

Prior to elective surgical procedures, your precertification department can also check benefits. While it won’t be totally accurate, if will give you an idea of what the patient still owes toward their annual deductible. Collect a portion of that prior to surgery. I would rather have you writing a refund, if necessary, than the patient claiming they don’t have the money to pay you after the fact.

Change your practice culture. You may consider:

  • Retrain your staff and their attitude about money. Teach them how to speak to patients about it.
  • Determine how much the patient owes you. Use the on-line tool we provide – always phone if you have questions
  • Get the patient’s coverage information at the time of scheduling the appointment
  • At the time of scheduling, tell the patient they are responsible for co-pay payment prior to seeing the physician. Ask them to come prepared to pay it.
  • If surgery is being scheduled, the surgical scheduler can address the potential need for some payment prior to surgery. Tell the patient to be prepared with a credit card when your employee phones them with details of the upcoming surgery
  • Provide a payment option – split the outstanding balance over a few (not a year) months time frame
  • If the patient does not have a credit/debit card with them, remind them they can ‘pay on line’ at: www.pmabillpay.com. Tell them what their balance is and ask them to pay it when they return home. The site will prompt them for your name, their name, payment information, etc. We download these payments each morning, communicate the payment information to you to enter into your credit card machine, you tell us it was approved; we post the payment to the account. This option always appears on the patient’s monthly statement.
  • Once again consider CareCredit. The application is done in your office, you get paid and the patient deals directly with CareCredit regarding their ‘medical credit card’ payment.