Stemming Losses in Copays, Deductibles at Your Practice's Front Desk

May 23, 2012

Here are three ways to stop 'lost' copayments and deductibles at the time of service at your medical practice.

Your medical practice cannot afford to allow many patients to be billed for their copayments and deductibles. Particularly, for most office visit copayments, the amounts to be billed do not merit sending out statements that could be costing you $3  to $6. Here are some ways to stop “lost” copayments and deductibles at the time of service.

1. When the Patient Calls
When making the appointment, it is important to get the patient’s health plan. It is most helpful, if the scheduler has a handy roster of the plans you deal with, and a listing of their copayments and deductibles. It is at that time that the patients could be told:
“Mr. Patient, as you know your plan requires a copayment of $X (or Y percent) at the time of your visit.”

Early in the calendar year, it is equally important to ask the patients if they have paid their deductible for the year. If there is any hesitation, let the patient know that you expect the patient to pay the deductible, as well as the copayment, at the time of the visit. If the patients now state that they “think” they have paid it, explain to them that you will be asking for their deductible and, if they have already paid it, their plan will notify your practice and the practice will refund their payment.

2. Reminder Calls
Two days prior to the appointment, reminder calls should be made. The reminder should include: the date and time of the appointment, plus any copayment and/or deductible.

3. When the Patient Checks in at the Front Desk
• If there is a deductible and fixed dollar copayment, make the collection effort at the time of check-in:
“Mr. Patient, as you know your deductible is $X  and your copayment for the day’s visit is $Z. How would you like to pay?”
• If there is a fixed dollar copayment:
“Mr. Patient, your plan requires us to collect a copayment of $X for today’s visit. How would you like to pay that?”
• If there is a percentage copayment and you are not certain of the potential fees for the day’s visit:
“Mr. Patient, as you know your plan requires us to collect a copayment of 20 percent for today’s visit. We’ll be collecting it from you when you are checking out.”

In all cases, every effort should be made to collect copayments at the time of the visit, and not send follow-up mail statements. This is why it is good business to be able to process all the major credit cards - Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

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