Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Improving Medical billing collection - Six important steps

How To Improve Your Medical Billing Collections Now Using These Six Important Steps

Medical billing collections use is growing, as many doctor's offices, medical facilities and hospitals confront ever-increasing past due debts from slow paying patients and back-logged insurance claims.
Along with over 40 million Americans without any health insurance, a slow economy due to recession, and growing unemployment, means shrinking positive cash flow for medical professionals.

Given that prognosis, there are a number of things you can implement to increase your internal medical billing collections. By putting these six tactics into place, you can greatly improve your financial bottom line.

1. Make sure you have a clear terms of payment procedure visibly posted at the front of the office. New patients need to clearly understand what they're expected to pay upfront, regarding co-pays, etc. This needs to be clarified BEFORE service is rendered.

2. Its vitally important that you collect ample and accurate patient information during the first visit to the doctor's office. Get the patient's full name, date of birth, address, work, home and cell phone numbers.

Get their work information: address, phone number(s), position/title, manager/supervisor, etc.
The point is the more information you can get here, the better. While some patients may be hesitant about giving their social security number, its still a good idea to ask for it, in the event the account has to be later turned over to a collection agency.

3. If the patient has health insurance, you need to verify coverage at this point. A doctor's office can get quite hectic at peak times, but this crucial step shouldn't be brushed aside. Verifying insurance coverage will save you, and your office staff, many headaches later.

4. Include written information in your patient application detailing the patients' responsibility to pay. Also, include language stating in the event the account is turned over to a collection agency for non-payment, that the patient will be responsible for collection costs.

In some states, the medical practice can recover their expenses for hiring a collections agency. But it has to be stated in the original patient-signed application at the beginning. (Be sure to check with your attorney about this, as state laws vary)

5. Payment arrangements should be an available option for those patients experiencing financial difficulties. As many are either uninsured or under-insured, making reasonable payment installments gives them additional options, and it will help generate positive cash flow for your practice.

6. Know when its time to turn problem delinquent accounts over to a debt collection agency. As covered earlier, rising unemployment, a recession and slow economy, and lack of health coverage has caused greater financial burdens for some patients, making it more difficult to pay for health care.
Most peoples' intentions are to honor their debts and do the right thing. However, there are those more "problem" delinquent patients who are less responsible about paying. By consistently using the procedures talked about earlier, you can better identify the patients who are going through temporary financial problems. Payment arrangements, in addition to continual communications can better address those issues.

However, the non-paying, more difficult clients need to be identified earlier as well. These are the accounts that should be outsourced to professional collection agencies, since they are better equipped to work with these types of accounts.

The failure to do so only means wasting precious time, money and human labor dealing with difficult accounts. Time is of the essence, in that the longer an account goes unpaid, the likelihood of getting paid at all decreases greatly. You increase your chances of getting a great deal, or at least some of your money, by turning these over earlier rather than later.

A good general rule thumb you should observe is after 90 days of no payment, medical billing collections should be outsourced to an outside collection agency.

These simple, but important, procedures are very effective in reducing your medical billing delinquencies. If these policies are put into consistent practice, you can greatly improve your medical billing collections.

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