Robbing Peter to Pay Paul—Making Sure You Get Paid

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Robbing Peter to Pay Paul—Making Sure You Get Paid

The problem of non-payment is one that’s only set to grow in the coming years. Due to the overhauls in health care regulation, an increasing number of patients are now responsible for covering part of their visit. Here are a few tips on how to prevent non-payment, and what to do when you run into it:

  1. Find out ahead of time what the patient is responsible for.


We mentioned this in last week’s blog. Have your office staff perform the due-diligence before your first visit ever happens to find out what their plans cover and what they are responsible for.


  1. Collect upfront, if possible.


While your patient is still physically in your office, make sure they pay for the part of the visit they are responsible for. Have your staff remind the patient several times that this is the expectation—for example, when they first call to set up an appointment, and again when they show up for the appointment. That way, they’re totally prepared.

  1. Set up a payment plan if they can’t pay upfront.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be able to pay for their visits in full. That’s why you should have payment plans in place to allow your patients to pay incrementally. Again, set up expectations ahead of time—due dates, amount owed each month, etc.

  1. Automate as much as you can.


If you do set up a payment plan, ask if you can have a credit card on file that you can charge each month. This cuts down on the rate of forgetfulness on behalf of the patient. You can also install an iPad at the front desk where the patients sign in and out of. During the sign out process, the app can prompt them for payment. This cuts back any awkwardness between your staff and patient when it comes time to pay, since it’s the machine asking for money, not people.


  1. Avoid collections agencies as long as you can.


Not only does this create an acrimonious relationship between patient and clinician, it could also mean a financial loss for you. Often, clinicians only recover a fraction of what was owed them after the collection agency’s fees are factored in.


While you got into this business to help people feel better, you have to keep in mind that you are just that—a business. By following the above steps you can mitigate some of the issues of non-payment and continue helping people recover.