Hospitals cannot write off debts for every uninsured or under-insured patient that comes through the door. In these, and other situations where a patient does not have the ability to pay, medical debt collection staff is taught to be proactive and persistent about collecting the unpaid debts. By employing and training staff members to be understanding and skilled at communicating, your debt collection process will improve and struggling patients will be more likely to pay. In order to achieve patient satisfaction and an increased revenue, hospital administrators should consider the following steps:
Inform patients of insurance coverage up-front. The revenue cycle starts prior to the time of service as soon as a patient makes an appointment. Instead of having an “I’ll worry about billing later” attitude, make it a policy prior to rendering services to inform patients of what their insurances do and do not cover. If the patient comes in with an emergency, review these details with them before they leave the hospital. It may be easy to assume that patients understand their insurance policies, but that is not always the case.
Provide a cost breakdown. Have you ever made a big purchase without first knowing the price? Patients – especially those on restricted budgets – are used to comparing prices and shopping around for the best deal on different products. Medical expenses should not be any different. Come up with a cost breakdown for the most common procedures patients undergo, and provide a list of self-pay prices upon request. Letting patients know what to expect before they receive their bill and helping them understand what they are paying for will make them feel more accountable and more likely to pay.
Provide compassion training. Make sure your medical debt collection staff receives proper revenue cycle management training, including how to deal with patients who find themselves in difficult medical and financial situations. Since some patients struggling with health issues often have their finances spread very thin, their ability to pay a medical bill is not always black and white. Patient account representatives need to be understanding and helpful. If a patient qualifies for charity care, for example, encourage them to apply, whether they ask about it or not, and always be willing to listen to their situation and be willing to offer solutions and guidance on working out a payment plan.
This information is not to be construed as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. Although we attempt to provide up-to-date information, laws and regulations often change. We make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of this document.For legal advice, please consult an attorney.