Are they old or young? Are they Suburban or Urban, etc.?
* NATURE / SPECIALTY OF YOUR PRACTICE
Is it hospital, emergency based or private out-patient? Are they chronically ill, etc.?
* IN-HOUSE HANDLING OF YOUR ACCOUNTS
Are you aggressive and organized or do you address your accounts when you get to them?
* The patient if "of age"
* Each parent if patient is a minor (Even if divorced & the decree states 1 parent is responsible)
* The patient's spouse if married & together on service date
* Anyone that signs a valid responsibility form
Note - A parent is NOT responsible for an "of age" patient that is still covered on their insurance policy*
* The insured parents of their "of age" child
* The local relative if the patient lives out of the country
* The employer of the "day laborer" / "off the books" worker
(Accurate information is the key to collection & the time to obtain the info is at the time of encounter when the service is needed as it becomes much more difficult after the fact)
* Full name - Address - Home & Cell Phone #'s
* Soc Sec# - Birth Date - Marital Status - Email Address
* Next of Kin - Employer Name - Address - Phone #
* Note - There is no such business named "Self Employed" - Try to obtain the specifics of the business or practice
* Copy of Insurance Card & Photo ID When possible
* Keep copies of personal checks to retain the patient/debtor's banking information, especially when you suspect that the patient is going to become a collection problem.
* Note - An attempt to withhold or omit information is a giant red flags that you have a collection problem in the making
* If a check is marked "paid in full" or "settlement in full" & you accept the check, essentially, you have agreed to the settlement and cannot pursue the balance.
* It is not illegal for a patient to keep an insurance check for services you've rendered (unless of course the check was made out to your name and they forged your signature)
* The best time to refer an account to collection is in the 90-120 day range. As the account ages, information about the patient changes and the ability to access available insurance funds diminishes
* Bankruptcy reform makes it more difficult for debtors to discharge debts without putting together a debt repayment plan - If you receive a "Proof of Claim" you must complete and return the form by the deadline to have a chance to recover some if not all of your fees
* Always ask for updated information when a patient comes back to you for additional services
* Even if you don't wish to pass the cost of collection on to your patient, you should have the language in your paperwork that allows you to do so as that gives you & your collection service leverage against the patient.
* Signed monthly payment arrangements do absolutely nothing for you other than limit the ability to pursue your debts. You are entitled to receive payment in full at time of service and anything other than that is done as a courtesy.
#1 Collection Myth - I can pay you 1$ a month & there's nothing you can do about it
* Nothing could be further from the truth - you dictate the payment terms and have the right to reject any payment plan that you deem unacceptable
#2 Collection Myth - You can't get blood from a stone/turnip!
* Stones & turnips are not your goals, Money is! Many people understate their ability to pay & upon review it is found they have the resources & with the proper handling your fee can be collected
#3 Collection Myth - Medical debts can not be reported to a credit bureau.
* Medical debts may be reported as collection accounts. The name of the medical provided is blocked out when a 3rd party looks at the credit report to maintain medical privacy, but the debt is shown!
#4 Collection Myth - You can not place me to collection until...
One of the most frequent questions we get from our clients is:
"What MUST we do before we send an account to a third party collection agency?"
The truth of the matter is that there are no real laws or regulations regarding how long you MUST wait, and the actions you MUST take before sending an account to collection. We frequently hear statements like, you can not send me to collection before XXX # of days and you must send a final notice certified mail, etc. etc. This is simply not true. Obviously, you would want to follow your standard office procedures on handling such matters, but at any point in the process that you feel you need to send the account to collection to protect your interests you may do so.
For instance, say you normally wait 120 days after the date of service and in that time send 3 notices to the patient before you send the account to collection. You find out 20 days after the date of service that the patient received a large insurance check and you call and send a personalized note asking them to forward the check to you and you do not get a response back in 10 days. You do not have to wait the remaining 90 days of your normal collection cycle as you clearly have a collection problem on your hands that need attention.
These tips & bits of information have been truncated due to space concerns. Should you need more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact us.