Patient Payments Strategies–Why it's so Hard and How to Make it Easier
In the months and years ahead, hospitals and physician groups will treat an increasing volume of patients who have opted in to low premium/high-deductible insurance plans offered through the new health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Yet, collecting money from patients is admittedly “hard” for providers.
It is hard because it is not something providers have traditionally focused on. (What hospital or physician group everboasts its self pay collection rate? None. Case in point.) Yet, starting right now, learning how to communicate with patients about treatment costs and their financial obligation is paramount making any collection strategy successful.
It is also hard because it puts providers in the uncomfortable position of asking for – or even insisting on – payment even though they have legal and ethical obligations to treat critically ill patients regardless of their ability to pay. Learning when to communicate is equally important. (Hint: Sooner rather than later.)
And, it is hard because failure to collect self pay balances from patients in a timely manner has serious ramifications on providers’ financial planning and revenue projections. The stakes are high. We would argue that most providers do not understand exactly how high.
For an accurate snapshot of the challenges associated with patient collections, check out this article published by FierceHealthFinance last month. And if you want to be a leg ahead, start today: ask for payment.