Misconception 1: If Patients are making payments you cannot sue them to collect
Whether or not to take a patient to small claims court or send the patients account to a collection agency depends on the amount outstanding and the person’s likely ability to pay. If a patient is making regular payments on the account that has been agreed upon in writing, then you cannot sue for payment. If the patient is not meeting those requirements then you have the right to sue for payment.
Misconception 2: When you mail statements makes a difference
Statements should be mailed out to insure arrival on the first of the month. This is not a good idea. So many companies follow that rule so what happens is the patient receives multiple bills on the same day and most likely your bill will be ignored over their car or mortgage payment. Sending out statements the second week of the month and mid-week is a good time because most bills are sent during this time and will stand out amongst all other mail. Sending a statement in a colored envelope such as beige or gray will also draw attention to it.
Misconception 3: Legal restrictions make collecting harder
Most state laws prohibit unreasonably harassing debtors by calling their workplace, at night or on weekends. With that said, the laws are not really that restrictive. Calling people at home or at work is not harassment until they tell you to stop, and maybe not even then if you are reasonable about it. However, if personal calls can jeopardize their jobs then that would not be ethical and will not help for you to collect money that is owed to you.
Misconception 4: It’s so hard to reach patients at home
Good collectors try every phone number they can find. Some offices complain and say that the patients are never home so they don’t even bother calling. Some offices stay open after five, usually when people are coming home from work, this would be a good time to call. Also some offices start early in the morning. Try calling then when possibly their getting ready for work or making breakfast. A quick brief call is all that needs to be made. You don’t want to make the patient upset which could cause them to never pay you.
Misconception 5: Sending patients to a collection agency is bad business
Some physicians are afraid of sending patients to collections due to them telling other potential patients or the referring doctor. Instead, when the collection process is polite and reasonable, the doctor will gain more respect from the patient and no one will value the services you provide more that you do yourself.
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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