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Many Physicians generally have a front office receptionist who handles the check-in and check-out of patients during office visits. A lot of times for many office’s it’s a hectic pace of patients coming in and out of the office, the phone is ringing, questions are being asked and answered, so the last thing the receptionist is thinking about is collecting on past due accounts, deductibles and sometimes even co-pays.
Another common practice that happens at the time of check-in is when the patient signs in and tells the receptionist “Just bill me for my co-pay.” Or deductibles are never collected and patients with past due accounts are being seen again without taking care of their account.
There are several ways to avoid a high accounts receivable where the patient portion is concerned.
Co-Pays A type of insurance policy where the insured pays a specified amount of out-of-pocket expenses for health care services such as a doctors visit or prescription drugs at the time of services are rendered, with the insurer paying the remaining cost.
Suggestion: Most Physicians have a sign near the sign in sheet clearly stating Co-Pays are due upon arrival. Patient’s that do not have their Co-Pay will have to have their appointment rescheduled.
When confirming appointments a polite and tactful reminder letting the patient know their Co-Pay is due on the day of the appointment.
If a Medical Practice on average see’s 20 patients a day and half do not pay their Co-Pay, that amounts to on average $100 a day. Now that may not seem like a lot but when you look at what the total would be for a month, it averages out to $2,000 a month.
Now most likely you will eventually receive payment for those Co-Pays but what did it take for Physicians to get it? A paper bill being sent, an envelope, a stamp and the time it took the Insurance Biller to generate a bill. So it’s costing the Physician money for something that could have been taken care of on the initial visit.
Deductibles A certain amount due by the insured before the Insurance Company begins to pay under the health insurance policy.
Suggestion: Patient deductibles and how much has been met can be easily obtained by phone or the internet. It is advantageous to collect a portion of the deductible up front before the patient is seen. This also is something that should be mentioned ahead of time when confirming appointments so the patient is aware.
Past Due Accounts: Anything that is due by the patient such as Co-Pays, Deductibles and Percentages after the insurance has paid their portion.
Suggestion: A patient that has a past due amount should always be called ahead of time with the amount due. Past due amounts should be collected and patients should be informed if the payment is not received on or before the appointment date, the appointment will need to be canceled until the payment can be made.
By implementing these practices Physicians will definitely see an increase in their daily totals and also attribute to a more controlled amount of outstanding patient portions that are owed to the Physician.
Marina Hall is a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) and founder of MariAnn Medical Billing Service. To read a full “Interview with Marina Hall” visit her website at http://www.inscoding.com/aboutus.php
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