Patient Education: Financial Responsibility and More Complete Payments
As the healthcare insurance market continues to shift, patients are likely to find themselves assuming greater financial responsibility for necessary services. In some cases this is because they choose higher premium plans through the federal marketplace to offset costs; in others, employers are providing employees with insurance that encourages wellness, not illness. For the healthcare provider, this necessitates a new kind of relationship with the patient. How can you educate your patients in their responsibility and ensure timely payments? Here are a few pointers.
Plan For the Patient
Up front, it’s important for the patient to understand the scope of their liability. If someone may owe hundreds or even thousands of dollars for services, communicating that to them prior to billing their insurance is key. That way, they can prepare both emotionally and financially to assume that burden, whether it be by paying in a lump sum or setting up an installment plan.
No one likes to have conversations about money, especially when it’s money owed, and even more so when it’s a large sum. Train your staff to both initiate and conclude these conversations in a way that maintains the patient’s dignity and soothes their stress, not increases it. This will make the patient feel respected and equipped to pay on time.
When faced with a massive bill that accompanies a treatment they can’t avoid, many patients will be overwhelmed. If possible, have options available both on the front and back end. If a patient could consider a less-expensive treatment, make sure they’re aware of that fact and all the risks that accompany it. On the back end, have options for patients to set up payment plans and various ways to pay. Check, credit card, online and in-person; diverse people have diverse preferences, and meeting all those preferences will maximize the likelihood of payment.
Improve AR Without Impact
Incorporating patient estimations into the billing process–and ensuring patients are aware of these estimations–is key in the modern medical market. Patient engagement with the financial side of the process has become integral to a facility’s success. One way to engage patients is to develop a supportive and positive relationship with them when it comes to their payments. Understand their budget and constraints and work with them, so they don’t dread your calls when the number pops up on their phone. As patients assume more responsibility for the costs of their care, the billing process must become more humanized. HCM can help you meet those requirements. Contact us today if you have questions about outsourcing your billing and accounts management.