It is a proven fact that patients have priorities when it comes to paying their bills. Come on, you know you do it too. When I get a bill from my dentist, I'm not always in a rush to send payment (maybe he should park his shiny new Porsche behind the building).
Priority order of paying bills is most commonly as follows:
- Family needs (tuition, sports equipment, activity fees, brand name clothing, etc.)
- Credit cards (at least minimum payments)
- Subscription services (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Spotify, XM Radio, etc.)
- Gym membership (whether it's used or not)
- Other "stuff"
- Medical bills
So how do we get these patients to pay or at least make a dent in our patient aging without outsourcing to a collection agency? Let's face it, patients who don't pay their bills are not bothered by the idea of being turned over to collections (it doesn't affect their credit score and most likely they've been there before).
My recommendation is to utilize the charm of a long-term staff member. Having your outside billing company or a billing manager who has never met a patient in person attempt to collect outstanding balances via mail, email or phone call will not be nearly as successful as "Kathy" the friendly receptionist who has greeted your patients with a warm smile and a conversation about the family dog or grandkids for years.
Based on this belief and proven results, please feel free to edit the processes listed below and start collecting those long past due patient balances.
When a patient has been sent several statements and has not responded, the following procedure should be followed:
- Check to make sure that the balance owed is accurate (that we are not waiting for insurance to respond to an appeal, etc.)
- Find out what the balance is for (copay notmade at time of service, deductible, denial for active coverage on date of service, etc.)
- Call patient (do not leave a detailed message on a voicemail); instead say;
"This is Cindy calling from _______ Foot and Ankle to verify information, please call us back at your earliest convenience at --- --- ----"
Or, If you are able to speak to the patient directly (or a parent/guardian/guarantor if patient is a minor) begin by saying:
"This is Cindy calling from ______ Foot and Ankle, I am calling to verify your mailing address as several statements have been sent with no response."
State the mailing address on file and wait for the patient to verify accuracy.
If the correct address is not on file, update the address and let the patient know that the information is now up to date. If the address on file was correct or not, the objective of this call is to collect payment.
After thanking the patient for verifying their mailing address then say;
"According to our records if a payment is not received promptly you will be automatically turned over to collections. I am calling today to help you avoid that situation. If you would like, I can securely take payment over the phone and have a receipt mailed to you."
Collect payment information over the phone if they are willing to provide it and thank them for cooperating. Patients may also agree to mail in a payment following the call (make note of this in the patient chart right away).
If they refuse to make a payment, thank them for their time and make note that you spoke to them on --/--/-- and have informed them that they will be sent to collections for unwillingness to pay their outstanding balance.