Did you miss Part 1? Check it out right here.
Surgery centers are proven to be a cost-effective alternative to in-hospital surgical procedures. Despite proven cost efficacy, ASCs are not given the same amount of pay by insurers. Developing different strategies to collect payments directly from patients is critical.
It’s not always as simple as it sounds.
A basic rule of thumb some follow is that patients will naturally gravitate towards a lower out-of-pocket cost when they have a couple of options in the marketplace.
Part 2 of this series covers the different asc patient collection strategies to use. We start with some basic facts from Becker’s ASC Review and the Ambulatory Surgical Center Association (ASCA):
ASCs need to have a few tools in their back pocket to help. Patient medical billing education, secure online payment websites and targeted marketing are just a few of those tools that ASCs should use to encourage patients to adopt a timely and cooperative payment process.
Targeted marketing heightens the collection process in several ways. Studies have shown that people tend to be more cautious with how they spend healthcare dollars when out of pocket costs are high. Employers and employees responded by opting for higher deductible plans and medical savings accounts.
By marketing directly to employers and patients with high deductible insurance plans and medical savings accounts, ASCs reach consumers who have the ability and predisposition to save money and pay for procedures.
ASCs should educate patients onsite and offer brochures or helpful tips on their website that explain medical benefits and medical billing practices so that patients are more prepared to for the payment collection process.
Educating patients about their copays, co-insurance, deductibles and EOBs helps reduce confusion for patients and explains how the process works. Thus, bringing them to a better understanding about their personal responsibility in terms of payment.
Let’s face it, ASCs can’t control a patient’s ability to pay. However, they can employ tactics to positively affect patient’s willingness to pay promptly, preferably at the time of medical services rendered.
Consider offering a discount upfront to the patient if they will pay their portion “in full” rather than make the payments they are requesting and are used to making to a medical provider.
“There is a psychological effect this discount offer gives this patient in knowing they are getting a ‘deal,’ and you will be amazed at how many patients will do whatever it takes to find this money in order to save a little bit of their cost,” said Gavin Duckworth, Corporate Director Patient Services with abeo.
More and more hospitals and other medical centers are applying this strategy and having great success in collecting this full amount minus the discount and not having to employee a staff to make calls and follow up on the back end.
However, you should be aware that many states may have regulations against waiving or discounting copayments and coinsurance. Make sure you are educated and aware of what your state allows when it comes to discount programs.
ASCs can leverage the power of incentives by creating a bonus system that confers savings to patients who make advance payments. An accountant can determine the most cost-effective bonus structures to offer and detail options for the most business-friendly benefits to offer for timely or advance patient payments.
Another ASC patient collection strategy is to give patients the option to have small advance payments automatically deducted from a valid debit card at fixed intervals such that their out-of-pocket payments are paid by the day of the procedure.
For instance, a $200 co-pay for a procedure scheduled within two months could be collected via $25.00 automatic debit card deduction every two weeks. Patients who opt for such a payment arrangement could be given an incentive to engage. The ASCs accounting department can determine the most cost effective incentive to offer.
ASCs are a vital part of their local economies, and can benefit from partnering with other local businesses such as restaurants, theaters, pharmacies, and fitness centers to offer discounts to patients that make payments on-time.
On the flip side of that strategy, consider charging late fees and interest. This can be a good practice is deploy when trying to get patients to pay as promptly as possible.
Offering online payment portals in the modern age of technology is a crucial component of collecting payments. Rather than hassling with the glacial ground-speed of receiving checks by mail, make payments less of a headache for your company and your customers both by accepting payments online via PayPal, credit or debit.
Obtain timely payments by offering online payments and office kiosks. Great surgery center websites will offer scheduling and payment portals that allow patients to pay co-payments at the same time an appointment is made. Also offer patients the ability to check for outstanding balances online.
Payment policies and benefits should be detailed on the website, so that prospective patients can be prepared to choose the timely pay option that best fits them. Online payments are quick and allow for paperless transfer into the centers bank account, which saves on labor costs for surgery center billing. For additional strategies on maximizing timely patient collections, consider utilizing an surgery center billing company like abeo.
Excellence of service and cost savings are two major qualities that will continue to create a demand for ASCs. Despite inequities of payment by insurers, ASCs are developing creative and proactive plans to turn the tables and find success in a difficult field.
abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.