Financial Medical Partnership

Self funding patients

2 Aug 2011 by Credittel

Working with self-pay patients If you’ve treated a self-pay patient who didn’t pay up front for services, you may think there’s no chance of collecting payment. While, unfortunately, this is usually true, there are ways for improving collection rates from self-payers without demanding up-front payment. First of all, if you are going to accept self-payers in your practice, the best way to ensure that you’ll be compensated is to require payment before any treatment is given. Put a sign on your door that says payment must be given in advance; this is standard procedure, so patients shouldn’t argue with your policy. If, however, for compassion’s sake or for some other reason you agree to see self-payers without pre-payment, be aware that you may not receive any money for the services provided. Limit the number of self-pay patients you accept without prepayment to severe cases; making a habit of treating without payment in advance will only harm your business in the long run. When you do try to collect from a self payer, remember that good communication is essential. Discuss payment options with uninsured patients from the start. Be sure to make clear how much services will cost and, if you can, break down the total cost in price per procedure. Do the same in your bill. A patient who understands the charges on their bill and feels they are legitimate is more likely to pay. There’s no reason why you can’t set up a payment plan with self payers, so they can pay off their bill gradually. It’s best to discuss this option before billing, when you can talk to the patient face to face. You might suggest your patient pay off the bill in monthly increments. If you are willing to offer your patients many options for payment, they will be more likely to comply with your bill and pay it. Another option is to trade self-pay patients for services. For example, if you treat an uninsured auto mechanic who cannot pay, perhaps he could provide you with free tune-ups for a period of time instead. This may or may not be attractive to you. Remember to thank the self-pay patients who do pay you. Send a thank you note or make a quick phone call. This may seem odd, but the patient is sure to appreciate being singled out for doing the right thing, and if they need medical treatment in the future, they’re more likely to come back—and pay—again. Retaining your uninsured patients who pay you can be just as important as retaining your insured clients.

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