As health insurance premiums keep growing (with an average annual rate of 7.1 percent [AHIP 2010]), employers are switching to lower cost, high-deductible health plans. This trend is causing a general decrease in payor payments as well as a consequent increase in patient payments. This may continue through the next decade since the Affordable Care Act rolls out. As a result, billing services along with their clients are more influenced by patients for revenue. To accumulate more from patients, many billing services have started to use patient-centered strategies, including payment plans. However, to improve results and increase efficiency for their clients, billing services need to make sure that they may have implemented best practices for Electronic Eligibility Verification.
Data from your 2011 “Trends in Healthcare Payments” report demonstrates that the usage of payment plans for healthcare payments has doubled since 2009.1 Inside the same report, 63 percent of surveyed patients stated that they could utilize payment plans for their healthcare bills if due to the option.
Many billing services support payment plans manually by running a calendar that shows when each payment is owed and through calling patients to accumulate on a monthly basis. This process is a step in the best direction, however it adds to the billing service’s work effort, will not ensure payment for your client, and has security flaws. Whether the repayment plan is set up whilst the patient is incorporated in the office or after a statement is sent, billing services along with their clients should securely collect and store payment information to enable them to automatically collect payments if they are due.
Even if an individual authorizes automated monthly payments, he or she may still ignore the payment until it turns up on their own next statement, which can create confusion and costly chargebacks. Improve communication and provide payment transparency by automating email notifications to patients prior to each payment transaction. It is perfect for billing services to provide patients some flexibility and choice in exactly how much they pay each month, yet it is also necessary that they set parameters and stay with them. As a standard best practice, billing services should charge the absolute minimum monthly payment of $100 or require that the bill be paid completely within one year.
Payment plans work effectively for patients who are not able to spend the money for full bill at the same time, but billing services should avoid allowing payment plans to turn into a method for patients to put off paying at all. Establish a policy that patients must pay a specific percentage of the bill upon establishing a monthly payment plan. Tailor Payment Plans to Patient Needs. Depending on the scenario, you can find three main types of payment intends to offer patients:
Installment: Collect payments against an outstanding balance and deactivate the program automatically when the total balance pays.
Recurring: Collect payments at a regular, ongoing interval as a subscription service. Save on File: Save a patient’s payment card on file to gather the remaining amount owed if the claim is adjudicated. This really is useful uqgjld the patient’s payment responsibility is unknown during the patient visit; as an example, when the patient includes a high deductible.
By using best practices when offering patient payment plans, billing services can ensure payment for their clients, even from self-pay or high-deductible patients. Automated, scheduled payment plans save billing services a lot of time and expenses to send out multiple patient statements and make follow-up calls to patients along with improve patient communication and clarity across the payment process.