You should be asking patients for amounts due at time of service.
Q. Is the collection of a patient's deductible or co-insurance amount prior to treatment accepted practice? What are the implications on a medical practice in doing so from an overall practice management and patient perspective?
A. The average patient is now responsible for about 25% of his or her healthcare bill-so if you're not already doing so, you should be asking all patients for amounts due at the time of service. As a general rule, if we know what the patient's financial responsibility is, then yes, it is more than appropriate to ask for the payment at the time of service. Check your payer contracts for specifics. Between eligibility options and online access to payers, it is pretty easy to calculate the patient's portion.
One popular option is to maintain a credit card on file for payment on receipt of the insurance explanation-of-benefits statement. Charge only the allowable amount to prevent a future refund. Payments can be processed on a monthly basis as well.
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Answers to readers' questions were provided by Susan Childs, Evolution Healthcare Consulting, Rougemont, North Carolina; A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Barry B. Cepelewicz, MD, JD, Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, White Plains, New York. Send your practice management questions to email@example.com