As we have talked about before, the billing and collections process in chiropractic clinics used to be fairly simple; Look at the patient’s insurance card, see what their office visit co-pay was, collect that amount from the patient and then send a claim to the insurance company for the balance.
However, we all know this process has become much more complicated for a number of reasons. First of all, more and more patients now have high deductible plans, either through their employer’s group health plan or from public or private exchanges. This means the patient is responsible for a larger share of the cost of their health care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the amount a patient has to pay before the insurance company pays any portion has increased a staggering 255% since 2006.
Secondly, having more patients on deductible plans also makes it more difficult for the front desk person to know how much to collect from the patient at the time of service. And, with 91% of patients wanting to know their payment responsibility upfront (according to the Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2015 commissioned by InstaMed), it also decreases the patient experience when the front desk person isn’t able to tell the patient how much they owe.
The third way the billing and collections process has become more complicated is that the way patients want to pay their health care bills has changed. Most patients used to pay by cash or check, so the only real complications were having to make change at the front desk or dealing with returned checks. Now patients want more flexibility and convenience in how and when they are able to pay their health care bill. Not only do patients want to pay more of their bills on-line (According to InstaMed 65% of consumers paid their non-healthcare bills on-line, 48% preferred to pay their healthcare bills on-line and 72% preferred an electronic payment method (credit card, debit card, ACH, etc.) for their healthcare bills.
So what action steps can your clinic take to make the Time of Service Collections in your clinic more efficient and effective?
1. Verify the patient’s eligibility and benefits (including the balance of their deductible).
2. Explain the patient’s eligibility and benefits to them. Be an “Advocate” not a “Collector”.
3. Accept credit card, debit cards, ACH, along with cash and checks as forms of payment.
4. Have an on-line portal where your patients can pay their bill on-line.
5. Set a goal of collecting 100% of co-pays at the time of service
6. If the patient’s deductible has not been met, collect the entire amount of the visit.
7. If the patient cannot pay the entire amount due, set a minimum dollar amount to collect.
8. If the patient has met their deductible, collect the appropriate co-insurance amount.
9. Put a note in the patient’s file if they have a past due balance and collect that amount at the time of service.