There are many different elements involved in patient satisfaction. This contentment extends well beyond the treatment that the patients themselves get. Many people are becoming more concerned about their bills and how they will pay for their care. It is to the point where a speedy recovery may wind up meaning less to a patient who believes that they may have been exposed to an unjust billing procedure. In general, a patient is considered to be unhappy if they believe the institution’s collecting practice is unjust.
This is especially true for patients who are self-paying. Because of this, it is essential for your organization to adhere to the best practices, standards, and rules for charging self-pay patients.
Keep reading for some helpful advice on rules for charging self-pay patients, and how to make the most of the chance to manage self-pay patients while also ensuring that your patients are happy with the care they get.
1. Segmenting Your Self-Pay Portfolio
As a result of the epidemic, it seems that patients’ payment preferences are changing. Because of this, institutions are now in a position where they need to make certain arrangements in order to properly manage the self-pay portfolio. Specifically, there is a need to continually examine each account so that you might possibly connect with the patient in terms of collection.
A good tip would be segmenting the various portfolios. This would be a good strategy to explore. This might include using analytics to determine the potential profitability of your various accounts before engaging. Benefits for your institution include lower total collection costs, higher payment recovery, and enhanced patient satisfaction.
However, this scoring and segmentation represent only a small portion of the equation. Even if you decide to use analytics, you will need extra monitoring and optimization tactics.
2. Keep Tabs on the Communication Preferences of Your Patient
As a provider in the healthcare industry, you must be aware of the patient’s preferred communication and payment methods. According to research, patients in their 20s are less inclined to take phone calls, while elderly patients are less likely to regularly check their mail.
In addition, some patients may choose to pay by IVR, while others may prefer a call center, a paper invoice, or a web gateway on your website. Overall, their chosen mode of payment at the time of collection is totally determined by their circumstances.
To make the patient’s experience less chaotic, you’ll need tools to assist you to monitor what each individual patient likes. Note that you must ensure that the customer’s communication and payment preferences are in accordance with your institution’s policy and government regulations.
3. Offer Clear & Flexible Payment Arrangements
When you create plans to achieve your financial objective, you need to handle it compassionately. As you begin the collecting process with the patient, either in writing or over the phone, you should bear in mind the whole of the patient’s connection with your institution. You must be able to discuss the patient’s balance without coming off as insistent and insensitive. Patients are more satisfied with your relationship with them when they see that the hospital was not primarily concerned with its own financial well-being.
Even though it may be deemed risky, consider arranging a flexible payment plan for self-paying patients. Specifically, you must properly communicate the various payment methods. Thus, the patient will be able to manage their growing account volumes, and the likelihood of bad debt write-offs will reduce. Ensure that the conditions clearly state that the self-paying patient is entirely accountable for the whole amount of the bill and the timeframe within which it must be paid.
4. Follow the Discount Policy
Self-pay patients are the ones who are financially liable for the whole or a part of the cost of their treatment. It is possible that it will be required to provide these people a discount in order to ensure that they will have access to medical services.
In terms of discounts, you are required to comply with the requirements of both the state and the federal government. Take note that the fee discount schedule will be updated on an annual basis in the Federal Register. You, as an institution, should make use of the sliding fee scale in order to determine whether or not the patient is financially eligible.
5. Look For Any Hidden Health Coverage
When self-paying patient goes to the doctor, they often get the impression that they are not covered by any health insurance. There is still the potential that they have a cover hidden under the paperwork and red tape. In addition, there have been instances in which patients who originally self-paid for their medical care later got insurance coverage or qualified for the Medicaid program.
Consider putting up a comprehensive insurance and healthcare checklist for the patient to go through before receiving treatment. This will help ensure that the patient does not end up spending more than necessary for the services that they get.
6. Create an Effective Payment Policy
Given that medical treatment might be costly, you may believe that you owe the patients some degree of compassion in the event that they are unable to fulfill their financial responsibility. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that payment is required at the time the services are carried out. You will want to make certain that this is included in your payment policy and that self-pay patients are well aware of this before you provide any services to them.
Be sure to request a promissory note and a partial payment from clients who are unable to pay the whole amount due during their visit if they want to establish a payment plan with you. Having a payment policy that is completely problem-free is, in general, the best method to ensure that there are no issues throughout the process of bill collection.
When it comes to invoicing your self-pay patients, it is imperative that you follow the best practices and rules in the industry. This will ensure that your facility continues to have a good cash flow. By doing so, you may prevent the need for write-offs due to bad debt while also ensuring that your patients have a positive experience.
The Bottom Line
At a time when it is becoming more difficult to make a living as a physician, you cannot afford to lose money because your self-pay patients do not pay what they are obligated to pay for their care, regardless of whether they are doing it intentionally or unintentionally. You and your team will need to put in some more effort in order to bring in this money, and these rules for charging self-pay patients will help you out.
You may also undertake a variety of actions on your own with patients. Make some phone calls or send a letter through your attorney. Transfer the debt to a trustworthy collection agency. Take the case to small-claims court if necessary.