Payments for patients are an essential aspect of managing the revenue cycle however when patients do not pay their financial obligations the practices of doctors suffer a severe blow. According to a study by the American Hospital Association — since 2000, U.S. hospitals have provided more than $502 billion in non-compensated costs for medical care.
Patients are paying more out-of-pocket medical costs than they have ever. Here are the top ways your practice can boost patient reimbursements that will increase your practice’s revenues.
Since more people have to pay higher out-of-pocket fees for medical expenses than they ever have before, primarily because of a surge in health plans that have high deductibles (HDHPs) and the healthcare revenue cycle processes need to change.
HDHPs provide the lowest monthly cost and the option of a high-deductible, which is an attractive choice for young people and employees who are budget conscious. If you’re offered high-deductible plans, approximately 40% of the employees opted for HDHPs as per Benefitfocus.
On the surface, HDHPs seem cost-effective to patients, but could come with a larger cost in the end.
Practices that concentrate on increasing payments to patients can boost revenue for the practice. This five-step guide will provide how practices can lower uninsured costs of patients.
1). Collect Payment Information
When insurance companies pay their share of the medical bills and patients are reimbursed, they will typically have a balance which, sometimes is not paid. Regularly updating the information on patient payments could cut down on the time needed to receive the payment. Nowadays, sending postal mail to pay for bills is becoming less popular and the majority of people prefer to pay with debit or credit cards online.
Implementing a credit card-on-file program in your workplace can make collecting less stressful and help you reduce the amount of time you spend in AR. A credit account on a file system is relatively easy, to begin with.
The information on credit cards is available by phone or at the time of check-in for patients. If you ask for the financial details of the patient, you entrust them to pay for the amount due instead of sending an invoice in the future without a verbal message.
The method of collecting patient information on payment upfront is easy and efficient, but it is often not implemented. If you’re thinking about the possibility of the credit card on file program in your practice, make sure to read our guide on getting the ball rolling with a CCOF system or choose the best Healthcare solution provider.
2). Payment Plan Option
They can also assist in reducing debt for patients by offering payment plans. Patients who have HDHPs tend to not be able to pay for the entire amount, which could result in the balance transferred into bad debt because they don’t have the money to pay.
If you’re sending bills, make sure to consider an option for payment plans. If you offer a payment plan customers can choose to make smaller installments in time and avoid having it delivered to collections.
There are pros and cons of using payment plans in the revenue cycle management process, but most of the time the payment plan will allow your practice to be able to receive payments from clients for their services, which is far better than receiving no payment even. The majority of payment instruments for patients today will let your practice set rules for payment plans so you can establish an amount for minimum payments and also the amount of time long the plans for payment can last.
3). Online Payments
Payment options online are the best and most efficient method of making payments faster. The delay in payment is more frequent when sending billing statements due to obvious reasons, like delayed delivery due to inaccurate details on the patient’s contact information. Also, don’t overlook the expense of postage and paper for every statement you send.
By sending e-statements to the patient’s email address, patients are informed about their balances faster and can pay with a credit card, debit card, or even check through an online payment site. Automated withdrawal is another option to speed up payment, decrease the amount of bad debt, and boost your AR.
When you send e-statements, be sure that the instructions for payment are clear and the customer is able to easily find their balance, payment options you accept, and also a customer service phone number in case they need to ask questions.
4). Educate Front Office Staff
The front office staff that is well-trained is essential for the payment of patient bills and also for the success of revenue cycle management all around. Your front office team is the first encounter that your patients will be able to have with your practice. It also allows your practice to explain financial and payment policies to patients.
Front office personnel must be trained how to explain the insurance policies and patient information and how to inquire “how do you plan to pay today” instead of “would you prefer for payment to be made today.” The front office needs to be knowledgeable when it comes to explaining the financial policies and the payment options you have available.
5) Communicating Insurance to Patients
Since the majority of us working in healthcare understand the terms used in insurance It is easy to forget that the majority of patients don’t understand these concepts. In reality, the absence of a proper education on insurance is one of the main reasons that patients aren’t able to cover medical expenses.
Based on a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, only 14% of the household healthcare insurance decision-makers were aware of the four main insurance concepts including co-pay, coinsurance the deductible, and out-of-pocket expenses which leaves a staggering 86% of people who aren’t aware of the insurance policy.
Medical practices must emphasize the importance of informing patients on insurance coverage and financial responsibility as their primary option to protect themselves against debts from patients that are not paid.
6). Post Financial Policy and Pricing
A majority of doctors require patients to sign the financial policy in order to receive medical care. The number of forms patients must sign is often a hassle due to lengthy policy information and payment requirements.
Eliminating the mystery of the financial policy and price for medical services could increase the chances of patients to pay, and also build confidence.
To aid patients in understanding your policies regarding finances and expectations for payment To help patients understand your financial policy, place transparent financial policy documents in front of the front desk as well as throughout the practice when needed. Prices for medical services should be easily accessible for patients to review to ensure that they are well-informed about the costs and what they can be expecting.
The issue of payment by patients isn’t an easy one to address however, with efficient payments made online along with clear communication and education for the patient, you’ll be on the quicker path to increasing revenues.