Even with the rise of accessible insurance with the Affordable Care Act, many patients are still responsible for paying a significant amount of their medical bills. If patients have problems paying, it can cause issues for a medical facility’s revenue cycle. There are, however, several strategies that can be put in place that can help patients make their payments on time.
Let’s face it: many people can’t afford medical bills out of pocket. Insurance helps, but even after that, they may not be able to pay the remainder all at once. Providing payment plan options with clearly defined parameters can give patients the opportunity to make payments on terms they can afford. The arrangement of the payment plan gives both the medical provider the consistent payment they need to complete their revenue cycle, and gives patients the freedom they need to make payments at a frequency that’s easier on them. If auto-debiting is an option, it may make the process smoother on both ends.
A/R Staff Training
Communication is key when talking to patients about their payment responsibilities. Staff members who communicate with patients about their bills may not always speak in simple language that patients can easily understand. Proper training and standard language that the staff can use to clearly explain patient payment responsibilities and help them through the most common problems can help put both the hospital and the patient on the same page and, in turn, close the revenue gap.
Electronic Payment Options
In today’s world, patients may be more likely to pay more quickly if they’re offered an online or electronic option. Utilizing online payment services that allow patients to pay with credit or debit cards—or other electronic means—from the comfort of their homes can help you get paid faster. Younger people in particular are more likely to pay if given the option directly—they may not even own a checkbook. Do note, however, that if you allow this option, it’s very important to mind patient data protection standards and health care billing compliance.
Early Pay Discounts
Positive reinforcement is often found to be a strong motivator. By rewarding patients who pay early, you may encourage others to follow suit. By offering percentage discounts for prompt or early pay (for example: 10% off if paid on day of services, or 5% within 30 days), patients are encouraged at the prospect of saving money on their visit. Paying a smaller amount also means the patient will be able to make the payments sooner.
Utilize a Service Partner
Many of these strategies may be difficult to implement in house and are often expensive. By utilizing a partner for your accounts receivable, you don’t have to worry about the costs associated with training staff on billing options, payment plans, proper communication, or the various other strategies that are effective in getting patients to pay their balances. Services like these can help boost your accounts receivable while putting a good face on the interactions your patients have with your hospital.