As enticing as sending out “Bruno with the Bat” may sound…there’s a bit more thought to put into the uncollected patient balances you have for more reasons than one. So should you use a traditional/true collections agency?
IMHO…you need one…but you shouldn’t be using them if you can avoid it. I have math to back this up so hear me out.
The average plastic surgeon makes 1.6M/yr and average genderm .8M/yr. In general, patients pay 30% of medical bills. So we’re talking 480K and 240K respectively if we’re doing napkin math. So that is 145K or 78K if you’re willing to risk it.
You’re basically betting $600-800 every time you piss a patient off…justified or not.*
1) LIBEL IS NOT A THING. This is America. Everyone can sue anyone for anything. Have you ever tried getting a Google review taken down? Have you ever left a Google review? Did they do much to make sure your opinion was founded in reality? Didn’t think so.
My point is: once it’s out there…it’s out there. And it is going to cost you time (months) + labor (can you hold for a supervisor?) + stress (patients are a cakewalk compared to this)…it’s more than it is worth.
So forget the $20 copay or $300 balance. If you’re a surgeon or you run Mohs, estimate and collect benefits up front (e.g., deductible and coinsurance). If you don’t, the facility will…and your patient is going to be ticked off at you about not setting expectations regardless of who collects.
TRY THIS: “Hi! I’m the Patient Care Coordinator for Dr. BestEver. We met at your consult and I’m here to make sure you’re aware you might actually have to pay for this procedure” is WAY BETTER than a statement in the mail 2 months later. No, your patient doesn’t know what insurance plan they selected. They may not even know what “a coinsurance” is. Also, hold onto your seat…but people don’t like bills. Price transparency is a movement. You’re either amazing for setting expectations or as palatable as a $100 aspirin. Your call.
Actual Script: Here at Dr. ImPrepared, it is extremely important to us that you don’t have any financial surprises post-surgery because we want you to concentrate on recovery. We went ahead and built a financial preparedness plan for you and it looks like you may owe $X for our insurance portion of your surgery. It is our policy to collect Y%. We do need to collect this before your surgical date (AKA right now. At your pre-op). Our team will monitor your account to ensure you’ve paid appropriately after your insurance company covers their part, and we thank you for your business!
GOSH! What a nice way to say, gimme the biscuit, right?
2) USE TECHNOLOGY. InboxHealth works so well that we don’t charge our clients for it. That’s love. We love you and we love InboxHealth. Look, either we pay our awesome staff to call folks and ask them to cough it up …or we use this tech to text/email/call automatically…which increases payment volume from 60%-90%…and we can spend our time on the phones shaking down real money from the insurance companies. The tech works. People love it. Worried about your more seasoned patients (AKA the older ones who have their cell phone text on size 36 like my dad)? Guess what…they don’t expect to get their Netflix DVDs in the mailbox anymore, do they? Also, they can opt-out to paper at any point with one click so NBD.
2.5) WHAT ABOUT THE RATES? Just know that whatever you’re paying for credit cards…it’s too much. All these programs have partners who allow you to swipe the program it auto-posts the payment. Yes…it’s easier and yes…you pay slightly more. CC Processing is a gutter game. A race to the bottom. “Oh you got better pricing. OMG I can’t believe it! Lemme see what I can do. It turns out we can match that, and completely screw you on some other pricing you won’t notice! Aren’t we the best?” No. Every basis point is worth about 5 seconds if your front desk knows how to type with more than their index fingers and/or can chew gum while they walk. So you’ll save money. Or just use a great billing company who doesn’t charge you for their efficiency tools?
3) I don’t care I use collections and I’m not stopping! Great. Go right ahead and a good billing company will help you manage transitioning clients to that collections agency…oh and they shouldn’t be charging you their billing rate after transfer on top of the collections brate of like 30% plus (e.g. no double dipping folks!). IF you are using an agency, be sure your transfer or collections fees are passed onto the patient by listing them explicitly on the financial forms your patients sgn at your practice.
NOT OK – We charge a collections fee which is passed onto our patients. – this will not hold up in court nor will your collections agency allow you to pursue it.
OK – We charge a collections transfer fee of 30% (vs $150 bucks) for all patient accounts not paid in a timely fashion. – this needs agreement to be signed by the patient!
So use, one or don’t, but there’s more to patient collections then collections folks. Mor unsolicited opinions available at Auctus Group’s amazing website.
*mathy stuff available upon request free of charge