Self-pay patients were once a small percentage of a medical practice’s patient mix. However, in today’s market, the number of self-pay patients is rising due to increases in health plan costs and the number of high-deductible healthcare plans. Medical practices can elevate self-pay patient collections by implementing the below five steps.
1. Train staff adequately
It’s natural for employees to feel apprehensive about discussing financial accountability with patients. Alleviate these concerns by training staff members on patient interactions. Provide processes and tools that encourage patient payments. Additionally, assign an experienced billing staff member to address serious patient payment concerns.
2. Determine financial responsibility
If a patient has insurance, then gather all relevant insurance information at the appointment time. For returning patients, confirm the original information and note any updates on insurance or financial status. When a patient makes an appointment, remind him or her that they should pay upon arrival.
3. Ask for payment at time of service (TOS)
Studies show that patients are 90% more likely to pay for services before they see the provider. Given this, front desk staff should collect co-pays, outstanding balances, and office visit fees at check-in. If the patient can’t pay at check-in, then the patient should check out with a billing staff member who can offer payment arrangements.
4. Offer payment plans and discounts
Payment plans and discounts encourage patients to pay bills on time. The practice should work with its CPA(s) and attorney(s) to develop a payment plan. A typical plan states that a patient should pay either 5% of the total cost or $50 a month (whichever is higher). Consider a basic structure that applies a 15% discount for full payment at TOS, 10% for payment within 10 days, or 5% within 30 days.
5. Bill electronically and accept multiple payment types
Electronic billing simplifies the payment process for patients and staff. Email bills to patients and include a link for online payments, but make sure to follow healthcare billing compliance requirements and patient data protection standards. Accept multiple payment types such as credit cards, PayPal, debit cards, and electronic automated clearing house (ACH) payments. The more flexible the payment options are, the more likely a patient will pay.
Go to the Next Level
With the number of self-pay patients is rising due to increases in health plan costs and the number of high-deductible healthcare plans, ensuring that your payment methods are user-friendly should be a top priority. Reach out to one of CRI’s healthcare CPAs to help your medical practice ensure that you’re using the most current practice technology tools to increase self-pay patient collections.
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