Jackie Stack, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CFPC, CIMC, CPEDC
Controlling patient collections is difficult. Collecting co-payments, deductibles, and self-pay amounts up front makes a huge difference, but there are still times when patients owe money. Sending statement after statement is expensive. How do you know when to write off the amount as non-collectable or turn the account over to a collection agency?
The practice must determine its own collection policy. The policy should be documented in the practice compliance plan, and applied consistently. The practice must make a good faith effort to collect from the patient. Most practices send at least three statements.
Decide if you want the aid of a collection agency. The agency contacts the patients, saving your practice time and money, and usually is paid a percentage of the amount collected. Send a final notice to the patient stating that if they don’t pay their account within certain time, the bill will be turned over to a collection agency.
Many practices want to write off the balance due to financial hardship. If your practice decides to go this route, be sure the practice has a financial hardship policy. The patient must be able to prove an inability to pay. Be consistent. Creating an application for your patients to complete showing monthly income, assets, monthly expenditures, and the number of dependents will help you confirm financial hardship.