As healthcare reimbursements decrease and patients incur greater responsibility for healthcare costs, medical practices must properly manage patient accounts receivable to maintain their cash flows.
Many employers are moving away from traditional health insurance plans as employer insurance costs continue to rise. High-deductible health plans (HDHP) offer lower premiums to employers in exchange for higher deductibles. Historically, qualifying HDHPs for self-only coverage have minimum deductibles of about half the cost of family coverage. Additionally, many plans offered through the healthcare exchanges that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be HDHPs.
Patient receivables (amounts due directly from patients via deductibles or other) have become a larger piece of a practice’s accounts receivable due to the popularity of HDHPs. Medical practices must develop a set of policies and procedures that will address all of the obstacles that typically prevent the practice from collecting patient receivables.
Require Payment at Time of Patient Service
A best practice is to require that patient pay at the time of service. Historically, medical practices have been very reluctant to ask for patient payments before or at the time of service. However, studies show that patients are 90% more likely to pay for services before they see the provider. The front desk staff should know to do the following:
- Confirm insurance coverage and identify the patient’s co-pay prior to patient arrival.
- Address financial responsibility policies with the patient at check-in.
- Verify that the patient’s address and insurance information are current.
- If applicable, ask for payment on any past due balances.
- Accept payments by credit card, cash, or check.
Managing Past Due Patient Accounts
Practices still need to manage past due patient accounts. However, if a practice focuses on collecting payment at the time of service, the number of past due accounts should decrease over time. Past due accounts should only be turned over to collections as a last resort.
CRI’s Healthcare CPAs Can Help You Keep Your Cash Flowing
CRI’s healthcare professionals can help your practice proactively manage patient accounts receivable. We’ve developed best practices that help keep cash flowing.