Medical Billing Forum

Payments => Patient Billing => Topic started by: grandechai on October 21, 2015, 04:12:04 PM

Title: extensive aging balances
Post by: grandechai on October 21, 2015, 04:12:04 PM
I recently found this group while searching for best practices and tricks other billers use to get patients to pay balances. I recently started working at a practice that has 6 figure in old aging balances. Talk about dropping a lot of balls by the old billers!!

I am thinking of compiling a list, and make phone calls (with documentation and evidence in hand of statements having been sent, sometimes, 10-15 times) to get people to do the right thing.

Besides wishing me good luck, is there any billers that have undertaken this herculean task, instead of instantly just sending everything to collections?

Glad to be in the community to read and learn from colleagues.
Title: Re: extensive aging balances
Post by: kristin on October 21, 2015, 05:43:48 PM
Although I have never had to deal with a situation like that, I do have a few thoughts, some or all you may have already thought of, but here is my two cents:

1. Are you absolutely, positively sure that all the patient balances are legitimate? Meaning that the previous billers didn't move charges to patient responsibility that were supposed to be provider write-offs, or incorrectly billed claims that denied were then made patient responsibility, etc? Because if they were so lazy that they never worked the AR, and instead wasted time and money sending out 10-15 statements on some patients, then they may have been lazy enough to not do the rest of their job correctly. You wouldn't want to pursue a patient for a debt that isn't valid.

2. What does the financial policy of the office(hopefully there is one) that the patients sign say about balances and collections? That can be very important to this situation.

3. The figures I have read say that it costs about $10 to send out a patient statement, when you factor in labor, supplies, paper, etc. So if someone has a $60 balance, and has been sent 6 statements or more, any further pursuit of the debt will just lose the practice more money. I would not bother pursuing any balances that will waste more labor costs. I wouldn't even bother sending them to collections, as that takes labor cost to do also. I would just write the debt off, with a note in the account that the patient owes money, and to collect it before they are seen again. Of course, you can't refuse to see a patient if they owe you, but you can dismiss them from the practice for nonpayment.

4. I would work the biggest balances first, and during your phone call, try to establish why the patient hasn't paid. You can usually figure out pretty fast if the patient is a deadbeat who just doesn't care, or if they are truly having financial difficulties. Based on what you figure out, take it from there. People with financial difficulties can be offered a payment plan, with the understanding that one missed payment means the balance goes to collections. You could also offer a percentage off the bill to both groups, as an incentive to pay that day.

5. Whatever you say to a patient, you have to follow through in regards to sending them to collections. So you can't say you will send them, and then you don't.

And I will say Good Luck! Just reading your post made me itch. I hate, hate, hate when things like this happen to practices because people didn't do their jobs correctly. If my patient AR ever goes over $3000, I flip out, never mind 6 figures!

Title: Re: extensive aging balances
Post by: grandechai on October 22, 2015, 09:53:00 AM
You are absolutely right Kristin. Having to clean up this mess is giving me mild panic attacks.

I appreciate your confirmation and advice. I have begun to sort out statements from the largest balance and validate that the previous billers did not do anything that you mentioned.

I have not reviewed their policy documents thoroughly, but I do not recall seeing or hearing from anyone that such a policy exists.
Title: Re: extensive aging balances
Post by: kristin on October 22, 2015, 07:58:56 PM
Well, while the practice should definitely have a financial policy in place, in this situation it is almost better that they don't. The reason being that if the patient had signed a policy that said, for example, "We will bill you, and if you don't pay, we will send you to collections", then you would have to send them to collections. By not having a policy, you have more leeway in what you do. But, I would advise a policy be put into place and followed ASAP. All of the debt before the policy is in place can be handled as you see fit, but after it is in place, it has to be handled according to the policy. My policy says "We may send you to collections", so that we are not locked in to having to do that.

Hopefully as you go through the balances, you won't find any surprises, and can get down to the phone calls and get some money in. Don't panic, you can do this!  ;D

Title: Re: extensive aging balances
Post by: rofakamrd on November 01, 2015, 11:09:57 AM
just a quick note.. i give my providers listing of pts to go to collections on a monthly basis... but since they have to approve it doesnt always happen!.. they put off big time....