Changes in Collections May Affect Billing

October 12, 2015

By Zach Schultz and John Berry

When it comes to collecting debt for medical bills, it is not always the easiest task. Updates in EHR (Electronic Health Record) software have made tasks for collection agencies much easier. Even so, these EHRs are not without their problems.

The medical billing industry has encouraged healthcare providers to adopt EHR technology, especially with the increased care provided to an additional 32 million newly insured Americans.

An article titled Developments in the Current Medical Billing System says “To accommodate these newly insured Americans, health care providers will need to utilize the most efficient medical billing system. This will drive the need to hire additional qualified medical professionals.” Billers and physicians will have to be comfortable using their EHRs and be able to effectively analyze electronic health data.

Even with a sophisticated electronic system, it still may be hard for medical billers to collect from their patients. As the age of an account increases, the chances of collecting on the account decreases. This is obviously a significant problem as one tries to grow their business.

When a business or practice owner faces problems collecting from patients, they may resort to using an outside debt collector. The term “debt collector” might have a bad connotation, but for a physician who simply does not have the time to collect on an old bill, debt collectors are completely necessary.

Many payment problems can be solved with self-payment billing, using a method that lets a patient set up a plan of payment at the point of care. This also helps the patient understand the cost of their visit, helps them realize all their payment options and, at the same time, significantly increases their chances of paying for their medical services. When done right, a self-pay billing solution makes paying easier for the patients and collection easier for the physicians.

As unemployment rises, so does self-pay. Wait, we just said self-pay is good, right?  Well, not this kind, the kind that is due to the increase in the U-6 unemployment rate (the real un-employment number). This self-pay is the kind associated with patients who have little or no income, who often don’t pay in a timely manner, or don’t pay at all. As the U-6 unemployment rate increases, as it has been recently, the propensity for these types of collections and write-offs increase, which is being looked at by the OIG these days.

So what does all this mean in terms of billing and practice management?  It means billing, collections and electronic payment systems, as well as self-pay, all represent more moving parts that physicians have to manage in order to get paid.

In all likelihood, this means a loss in revenue for you. This is where Vachette comes in.  We can walk alongside you and help make sense of the issues, so you make more money.

For further information or comments about this article, please contact Mick Raich at Vachette Pathology, 517-486-4262.

References

Rossman, John. “Another Reason For Collectors To Be Cautious When Calling Consumer Cell Phones.” InsideARM. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

“Consumer Information.” Debt Collection. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection>.

“Developments in the Current Medical Billing System.” Learn About Medical Billing System Updates & Changes. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <https://www.allalliedhealthschools.com/health-careers/medical-billing-coding/medical-billing-system/>.

West, Craig. “Self Pay, Importance of Collecting Patient Payments – Patient Payment Collection Acryness.” Self Pay, Importance of Collecting Patient Payments – Patient Payment Collection | Acryness. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <https://www.acryness.com/Acryness-Blog/ArticleID/4>.

Tarnish, Robert. “Six Tips for Making Collection Calls That Get Results.” Collection Calls. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <https://www.abc-amega.com/articles/collections/collection-calls-that-get-results>.

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