Posted By Amanda Guerrero
October 3, 2012

Check mark - medical collections tipsWhether it is working with a medical collection agency or carrying out billing efforts in-house, healthcare professionals know that collection calls are crucial to the stability of their organizations’ accounts receivables. This is because, in order for a medical business to stay afloat, physicians must get paid for services rendered. Making collection calls, however, can be daunting for inadequately trained collectors. By following these tips from experienced healthcare debt collection professionals, employees will be able to feel at ease dialing patients and can successfully collect on past due accounts.

  1. Make sure you are talking to the right person: The first and most important step when making a collection call is verifying that the person you are speaking to is authorized on the account. To confirm that you are speaking to the correct person, ask them to verify demographic information, such as address or date of birth.
  2. Let the patient know who you are and where you are calling from: As soon as you verify that you are talking to the correct person, identify yourself and let the patient know where you are calling from. It is important that the patient knows this from the get-go.
  3. Request that the patient pays their bill in full: Before you offer to negotiate a payment plan, inform the patient of the amount of money they owe, and ask them to pay their bill in full. Asking a question such as, “How will you be paying this today?” can be much more effective than, “How much are you able to pay?” At this time, you should also inform the patient of the different methods of payment that your organization accepts: “For your convenience, we accept checks and all major credit cards.”
  4. Take on the role of ‘problem solver’: A patient might offer excuses about whey they are unable to make payments; however, your job is not to focus on why the patient cannot pay. Instead, you should act as a problem solver and focus on what you can do to help the patient pay their debt. If you suggest a monthly payment, and the patient claims the amount is too steep, offer to help with budgeting and have them walk you through their monthly expenses. Reaching a compromise with the patient will be more beneficial to both parties than if you take an all-or-nothing stance.
  5. Make a note of what you and the patient discussed: Once you reach an agreement with the patient, ask them to repeat the specifics about when they plan to pay and how much. Let the patient know that you are documenting this information in your system. For example, “I am making a note that you will be making your first monthly payment on the 15th.” Not only will this information be stored in your system for future reference, but it reinforces to the patient that you will be expecting a payment from them on that date as promised.

For more healthcare debt collection tips and revenue cycle resources, visit www.arlogix.com.

Posted By Marie
October 2, 2012

Though the lack of a free universal healthcare system in the United States is a cause for criticism for some, for others it’s a fair and justifiable way to save hardworking American taxpayers from being indirectly strapped with other peoples’ medical debt.  Opponents of universal healthcare often argue that there IS a way to receive free care with a guarantee not to be turned away: visiting a hospital emergency room.Emergency roomas and healthcare debt

While there’s a high degree of truth the widely-held idea that a person cannot legally be denied care at an emergency room facility, there’s also a high degree of misinterpretation.  There are a number of factors at play in determining whether a person can receive care at an emergency department without being able to pay – and the fact that they were unable to pay does not mean that they’re not going to wind up dealing with healthcare debt collection.

What is really means to be “guaranteed” emergency care

Yes, it’s true that legally – in certain situations – a person cannot be turned away from an emergency room because of an inability to pay.  However, there are restrictions on what conditions can be treated by an ER doctor as well as which conditions are allowed to be turned away due to the patient’s lack of financial resources.  Conditions that cannot be turned away include only

  1. Acute medical conditions that would cause death, serious harm, or serious organ damage if not treated immediately.
  2. Labor in pregnant women.

For example, a person with a severe bowel-obstructing colonic tumor can’t be turned away to have the tumor removed as an emergency procedure after it has become a life-threatening problem.  However, the care necessary to cure their cancer would never be covered – and by the time the tumor is at this serious a stage, the patient is not likely to survive cancer treatment anyway.

Someone IS paying – even if it’s not the patient

The healthcare provided for patients with emergency conditions DOES cost something, and hospitals need to rely on medical collections in order to keep financing patient care.  According to a study by the American Hospital Association, hospitals in the United States lost over forty billion dollars in 2012 due to unpaid patient medical debt.  Hospitals, just like any other company or organization, need financing to run – and since United States taxes don’t cover their expenses (the way taxes and government money fund hospitals in countries with universal healthcare systems), they need to get money from patients in order to run.  A law covering emergency care doesn’t erase hospital debt or offer security for patients; it simply transfers debt.

Posted By Amanda Guerrero
September 27, 2012

What to do when a medical collection agency contacts you about a late relative’s medical bills.

Sad girl thinking about healthcare debt collectionWhen a spouse or loved one dies, the last thing you need is to be fielding calls from a medical collection agency about your deceased relative’s unpaid bills. Yet, collectors rarely put an end to their healthcare debt collection efforts just because a patient has passed away. In fact, some agencies even train their collectors on how to talk to grieving relatives. Interesting enough, surviving relatives are not always legally obligated to pay the outstanding debts of their deceased relatives.

Whose responsibility is it? When a person dies, their debts are typically paid off with money from their estate, which is composed of all of the assets owned by the deceased. In order for a collection agency to obtain money from a debtor’s estate, they must file a claim with the probate court. The person executing the estate will then pay as many of the deceased’s bills as possible with the available assets. If there is no estate, or if the money in the estate is not enough, collectors will usually end up writing off the patient’s debt.

What if a medical collection agency insists that I pay the bill? In some cases, collectors will try to collect from a patient’s surviving relatives at all costs. If the deceased person had a life insurance policy, for example, the agency might continue their healthcare debt collection efforts against the life insurance beneficiary. This person might even pay the bill because they think they are obligated to do so. In reality, life insurance money belongs strictly to the beneficiary and cannot be confiscated by bill collectors. In fact, in most cases, once a person dies and their estate has been liquidated, their surviving relatives do not have to pay any of their outstanding bills.

If you are receiving frequent phone calls regarding a dead spouse or other relative’s medical debts, remember that there are laws that protect you against harassment from creditors. To find out what your options are, talk to a consumer attorney. Many offer free consultations.

Posted By Amanda Guerrero
September 19, 2012

Healthcare debt collection piggy bankAs healthcare costs continue to rise, patients often find themselves facing crippling medical debt. This happens when patients are unprepared, uninformed and caught off guard by unexpected ailments – and once a patient enters the medical bill collections cycle, it can feel as though there is no way out. Patients who are well-informed, however, can better navigate their debt without feeling in over their heads.

Here are a few ways that knowing the ins and outs of the healthcare industry can benefit patients by making the healthcare debt collection process less overwhelming.

  1. Request an itemized bill. The bills that hospitals typically send to patients don’t contain many details. Therefore, by looking at your bill you might not know what it is you are actually being charged for.
  2. Review the bill for discrepancies. Once you receive a copy of your itemized bill, review it to make sure you aren’t being charged for treatments or medications that you didn’t receive. When reviewing their bills item-by-item, patients often find erroneous charges. This can include duplicate charges, as well as charges for services you didn’t receive.
  3. Ask about qualifying for financial assistance. Hospitals don’t always offer charity assistance straightaway even though you might qualify for it. If you feel as though your financial situation might qualify you for financial assistance, don’t be afraid to ask. The hospital will review your case and will let you know whether you meet the requirements for government assistance, charity care, or even discounts from the hospital itself.

Moving forward: Avoiding the emergency room is one way to prevent accumulating large medical bills and entering the healthcare debt collection cycle. If you don’t have a real emergency but need to see a physician on a weekend or after-hours, consider visiting an urgent care clinic. You can plan ahead for an eventual “emergency” by contacting your insurance company and finding out whether they are affiliated with any urgent care facilities in your area.

Posted By Amanda Guerrero
September 6, 2012

Medical collection agency representative with outstretched handHealthcare debt collection can be a difficult process, as it involves taking into account the needs of both patients and the medical professionals who treat them. Though patients don’t choose to get sick and may not always be in the best financial state, physicians depend on timely payment in order to run a successful business. Therefore, the goal for a medical collection agency is to collect as much money from patients as possible, while maintaining a favorable relationship and representing physicians in a positive light.

Think of yourself as a problem solver.

Though many patients may never have dealt with a medical collection agency before, negative preconceptions of debt collectors exist. This means that some patients tend to automatically get on the defensive when taking a collections call, regardless of whether you have provoked them or not. Though you may have to work hard to get patients to stop thinking of you as the enemy, the end result will be worth the effort.

Let the patient know that you are on their side and that you are willing to work with them to find a solution to their problem. This will be much more beneficial to your relationship than simply asking for payment. Use wording such as, “I know that together we can figure out a way to get these bills paid.” Patients will respond to that more positively than if you demand payment without offering a solution.

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes.

In order to help patients figure out how best to go about getting their medical bills squared away, it is necessary for collectors to get a clear understanding of each patient’s financial situation. While you might not necessarily want to build personal friendships with patients, you should consider developing some sort of relationship, that way patients will feel a greater responsibility to make their payments on time.

To learn more about healthcare debt collection, click here.

Posted By Marie
September 4, 2012

Healthcare revenue cycle management tipsWe may be approaching the final quarter of 2012, but there’s still time to review your hospital or practice’s finances thus far this year and begin to formulate a plan for improving your income.  Managing your healthcare revenue cycle the right way can help you maximize collections, increase revenue, and save time spent managing patient accounts in the office.

Increasing healthcare debt collection and boosting revenue is often much simpler than you may expect, and working with consultants or a healthcare accounts receivable partner can help organize your efforts more than any other tactic.  The following tips are some of the most common and broad-reaching strategies for improving your hospital collections.

  1. Set up a policy of insurance authorization.  Insurers will often reject claims for tests and services scheduled before the pre-certification/authorization for it was confirmed.  Set up a system – such as assigning a number to a procedure once it has been authorized as a prerequisite for having that procedure scheduled.
  2. Verify claims submission.  Most insurance carriers send two levels of confirmation reports – an initial report to confirm that the report was received electronically, and a second report that will require verification from the physician.  Check for this second report and handle all verifications immediately to avoid losing out on revenue from claims submitted online.
  3. Encourage eligible patients to enroll in a care compensation program.  Often, the number of patients eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled eats a significant hole into healthcare debt collections.  Their bills may remain on the ledger unpaid when they could easily be handled by Medicaid in a reasonable amount of time.  Though it takes up staff time to audit such cases (and patients are often wary of the stigma attached to collecting Medicaid), it’s a very direct way to handle certain unpaid bills from clients not in a position to pay.
  4. Dig deep.  What you’ve read above are a number of small issues that arise, but they’re often part of a larger problem: an entire revenue cycle management system gone wrong.  Working with an expert can help your healthcare organization rethink its whole structure and uncover systemic problems leading to inefficiencies in the way your hospital or practice collects debt.
Posted By Marie
August 24, 2012

Medical collections agency AccretiveAccretive Health, one of the largest healthcare debt collection companies in the United States, has been at the center of a torrid legal battle during most of 2012 over questionable collections practices.  The company will be required to pay 2.5 million as a settlement to the Attorney General’s office of Minnesota and will be forbidden from doing business with any hospital within the state during the next two years.  This includes accounts with three hospitals that they currently have as clients.

A report released by Minnesota State Attorney General Lori Swanson this April on Accretive’s medical collections techniques listed a number of extreme tactics, including:

  • Setting patients up with “financial counselors” who were actually third-party Accretive debt collectors without financial counseling licenses.
  • Placing debt collectors in hospital emergency rooms.
  • Pushing patients to pay for their treatment before even receiving it.
  • Discouraging patients from accepting medical care if they weren’t sure that they could pay.
  • Focusing their efforts on patients in cancer treatment units and labor/delivery wards.

In January, news broke that an unencrypted laptop belonging to an Accretive employee had been stolen the previous July.  The laptop was later revealed to have contained sensitive personal information and medical records for 23,500 people, and the employee reportedly was not authorized to have access to this information.  The state took Accretive to court on this issue as well, claiming that the company should reveal what precise information the laptop contained and how Accretive was using it.  Accretive insisted that the suit was baseless, as no patients have been defrauded or harmed as a result of the missing information.

A medical collection agency has a financial responsibility to its clients, but this line of work also comes with a social responsibility to patients.  It’s important to balance performing one’s job efficiently and correctly with treating other people involved with the respect they deserve – a mainstay of healthcare work that Accretive failed to comply with.  The Accretive lawsuits serve as an excellent example of the importance of choosing a healthcare debt collection agency whose policies and strategies fall in line with the goals of the healthcare facility that hires them.

Posted By Amanda Guerrero
August 13, 2012

Telephone for healthcare debt collectionRunning an efficient practice depends largely on employee productivity; and your employees’ effectiveness can vary depending on whether they have the right tools to get the job done. By investing in the latest technologies, including a dialer application, your organization can make the most of its existing resources, improve the healthcare debt collection process, and see a quick return on investment.

What is a dialer?

Dialers are computerized systems that help callers spend less time dialing outgoing numbers and waiting for someone at the other end to pick up.

What are the advantages of using a dialer?

While there are different types of dialers – automatic, progressive, predictive and preview, among others – they all share a common factor: they allow agents to make more efficient use of their time by increasing their hourly talk time.

Just like electronic medical record software can increase the number of patients a physician is able to see in one day, dialers can increase the number of patients your collections staff reaches in one day. This is because it is much faster for a computer to dial or redial a phone number than for a person to do it manually on the phone’s key pad.

Dialers also help you spend less time waiting on the phone for someone to answer. Some dialers, for example, won’t put a call through to the agent if the line is busy, goes to voicemail, or no one answers. Instead, agents are only connected to calls when someone answers on the other end.

If you run a small practice and can’t afford to invest in dialer technology, remember that healthcare debt collection agencies use these and other services to obtain better collections results.

The mission of New Wave Enterprises has and will always be very simple: deliver a quality custom solution to every client within budget. Founded in 2003 by John Deutsch the company was originally known as New Wave Marketing.
We then incorporated under New Wave Enterprises LLC. Around this same time we founded Medical Web Experts and Legal Web Experts as subsidiaries. We pride ourselves on staying true to our ethics by being honest and fair to our clients.
Facebook Fan