Helping patients with their healthcare needs may be the most rewarding part of your job as a doctor. But you still have expenses to cover, so you need to collect payment. You likely find this to be more difficult than necessary in some situations, which may leave you short on the funds you were counting on to run your practice or keep up with your mortgage.
While there’s no way to guarantee that every patient will pay on time, there are things you can do to reduce payment issues for your medical practice. Read on to learn some suggestions for how to deal with payments as a doctor.
Verify Coverage Before the Visit
Healthcare Finance suggests verifying insurance coverage at least 24 to 48 hours before the patient’s appointment. It explains that doing so should help you determine whether a co-pay is required. Just think of a time when a patient showed up and realized that his insurance was no longer valid or left without paying the proper co-pay if you need motivation to verify coverage before a visit.
Establish a Payment Plan
Someone who has a genuine need for your services but cannot afford them upfront may be interested in a payment plan. Of course, you’d want more than just a verbal promise in this situation. An example of a document you could use to record the agreement can be found here. It won’t guarantee that the patient will pay, but will give you something to reference if the patient later refuses to honor his commitment.
Only Accept Cash
By only accepting cash, you’d almost certainly simplify the payment process at your practice and have to devote fewer resources to ensuring that you get paid. And if you collect payment before services are rendered, you’ll eliminate dealing with patients who pay late or simply don’t pay. But you could lose a lot of business in the process. According to a Business Insider report detailing various cases of doctors that have stopped taking insurance, two of those discussed in the article lost patients, including one who lost several hundred of them. Thus, you’ll want to make sure this makes sense for your business before making the switch.
Deal with Missed Payments Sooner
Getting collections agencies involved may be the last thing you want to do with a patient. However, if you’re not being paid for your services, it may be something you want to consider doing sooner rather than later as a patient may be less inclined to pay the longer the situation lingers.
While providing adequate care is probably the most important thing on your mind as a medical professional, getting patients to pay the appropriate fees is an important part of staying in business. Consider these suggestions as you run the business side of your practice to help ensure that you’re paid for the services you provide. For legal advice on billing and collecting debts from patients, contact a lawyer.