How HIPAA affects checks that bounce

July 18, 2008

Our collection agency says that due to HIPAA regulations, it no longer can contact a patient directly if his check bounces. Instead, we must charge the amount back to the patient's account as an unpaid balance and turn the account over for collections. Is this true?

Our collection agency says that due to HIPAA regulations, it no longer can contact a patient directly if his check bounces. Instead, we must charge the amount back to the patient's account as an unpaid balance and turn the account over for collection. Is this true?

Not as long as you have a business associate agreement with the billing company. Such an agreement allows the billing company to do everything you or your office staff can do. Since HIPAA allows the use and disclosure of protected health information for treatment, payment, and operation purposes, you're allowed to contact the patient directly regarding a bounced check-or delegate that task to your business associate, the billing company.

Send your practice management questions to:PMQAEditor, Medical Economics, 123 Tice Blvd., Suite 300,Woodcliff Lake, NJ07677-7664, or send an e-mail to mepractice@advanstar.com (please include your regular postal address).