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Using Payment Plans to Improve Both Patient Health and Collections

payment-plansIn the world of retail, consumers are accustomed to using a variety of methods – layaway, pay later programs, store credit cards – to purchase what they want, when they want. In healthcare, however, a different mindset prevails, and 43 percent of Americans have cited financial reasons for not getting the care they need.

As out-of-pocket expenses continue to climb, it’s very likely the number of patients who decide against healthcare treatment due to cost will also grow. A solution that can help practices and patients alike is the payment plan.

Payment plans can make healthcare costs more manageable for patients and can help them protect credit ratings. For practices, payment plans can expedite collections and ensure larger bills don’t turn into bad debt. They can also reduce administrative work such as generating and mailing statements and making collections-related phone calls.

While payment plans can be a win-win for both sides, introducing them into a practice does require cultural and process changes. Physicians are often reluctant to promote anything collections-related, and staff who are not accustomed to addressing billing and payment options may be hesitant to start. Practices can overcome these challenges by immediately updating financial policies to include details of the payment plan option. Work with patients to establish payment timeframes. Oftentimes, they might be more aggressive in timing than your staff would have originally requested. Ask patients to review and sign off on the policy, and train staff on how to set up plans for patients.

For more recommendations on improving patient collections strategies, download the white paper authored by Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, Patient Collections: Business Critical for Today’s Medical Practices.

About the author: Joy Coy is a manager of strategic accounts at Navicure.