Many consultants think that having a private practice is in the insurance market, when really it isn’t, only around 65% of invoices raised by private practices were accounted for by private medical insurance. Self pay patients are accountable for around 25% of specialists’ incomes (however this can be higher and completely varies on your speciality, type and location) which is why prevention of private patients avoiding their medical bills is imperative to the management and financial condition of your private practice.
Most consultants have an element of patients who are self-pay. Therefore, it would make sense to have a concise price list provided and make sure payment methods are made clear in advance so that your patient is expecting an invoice and is prepared to pay promptly.
Ways you can avoid late payments or payment avoidance is by taking payment on the day by debit/credit card or, dependent upon the requirements of the practice, you can even take money in advance.
Should you not be able to collect payment on the day, you will need to put in place a strict system where the patient is chased for payment after a period of time that is agreed with the patient and then chased on a regular basis until payment is collected.
Another area of private medical payment avoidance comes from a lack of understanding and knowledge by the patient in regards to their insurance policies. Shortfalls in insurance payment are normally by far the largest volume of the self-pay invoices. Most patients do not have a full understanding of their insurance policy and are under the impression that all costs are met by their medical insurer. It usually results in patients being unprepared on recipients of their financial responsibility for medical treatment in form of an unexpected invoice. Many patients will ignore the invoice, with the misapprehension it is a copy of what has been sent to the insurer and when they do become aware of their financial obligation to pay a part of the bill, it is usually met with frustration which leads to further delay as the patient disputes the liability with their insurer.
The self-pay market is inevitably going to continue to come under pressure from the economic situation. So unless you put in place a clear and strict payment plan for patience to follow, it is almost certain that your outstanding debt circumstances will continue to increase as a consequence of the increasing difficulties in getting patients to pay up.
You may want to recruit the help of a debt collection agency or find an accountant that offer credit control and debt recovery options, just like Accounts Unlocked For Doctors. This takes the stress away from your busy, everyday needs and priorities in the practice. We can provide you with expert advice on how to deal with increasing debt issues and ways to tackle unpaid patients.