Happy New Deductibles!
At the start of a new year, deductibles can be a challenge for patients and providers alike. Patients may not fully understand deductible resets or their healthcare plan’s policies in general. When patients are confused, they are less likely to pay their balance to providers. Additionally, some patients may not be able to pay their bills in full when deductibles reset to their annual maximum amount, which can be as high as $6,000 for a family health plan. As a result, deductible resets cause cash flow and collection problems for provider organizations, while also causing a strain in their relationships with patients.
Here are four quick tips to ensure payments are collected efficiently – all while helping patients better manage payment responsibility when deductibles reset.
1. Be Upfront and Clearly Communicate the Patient Responsibility
No one likes surprises, especially when it comes to a large medical bill. Patients want to know payment responsibilities prior to a visit. By notifying the patient by calls or text before they present in the office; the discussion is being pre-framed for success in the collection task. Patients may not realize how much their treatment will cost, especially when deductibles reset to their annual maximum amount. Instead, providers can offer patients an estimate of payment responsibility before or during a visit to help patients better understand what they may owe. When a patient understands set payment expectations, it helps to improve the patient experience while also allowing staff to collect more payments. The payment estimate is also an opportunity to discuss all payment options available to the patient to make collections that much easier after the responsibility is determined by the health plan.
2. Save Patient Payment Methods to Automatically Collect Balances
Staff can help patients pay down larger balances by setting up automated payment plans by securely saving a payment method on file. Payment plans are great for patients who are unable to pay the full bill at once, and for providers to ensure payments with less staff intervention. Communicate expectations with staff and patients and establish policies for payment plans, including a minimum amount a patient must pay each month and an end date for when the bill must be paid off in full. Staff can also discuss options with the patient to leverage the saved payment method to automatically collect a smaller balance when a new claim is adjudicated. Not only does this guarantee payment and deliver payment faster, but it also offers patients the added convenience of not receiving a paper statement or taking out a payment card to pay smaller balances.
3. Make it Easy and Convenient for Patients to Pay Their Bills
The key to assuring patient payments at your healthcare organization is offering patients the option to pay how they want – whether it’s online, over the phone, by text pay or by automating a bank bill pay program. This not only increases the chances of patients paying their bills but aids patient satisfaction by giving patients convenient payment options they prefer. When patients can make payments the way they want, they’re more likely to pay.
4. Record the agreement
Whatever option you decide works well with your practice, have a clear process to record the agreement within the patient’s chart. A copy of this agreement needs to be given to the patient for reference. Be sure to inform the patient what the action will be if they default on the payment plans and stick to them.
By adhering to this workflow your patient’s surprises should be minimal and balances should show steady collections. Happy New Deductibles!