February 1st, 2018
If you are hesitant about collecting co-pays, consider that you may be paying interest on credit cards, property mortgages, and business loans. Each dollar that you do not collect in co-pays could have been used to pay down the practice debt. Without question, if you are having difficulty finding ways to pay your insurance premiums, or other practice bills, the money from co-pays will make an enormous difference. Today, some providers would like to implement a system where they only charge co-pays to certain patients. Unfortunately, this can cause an enormous amount of trouble with the insurance companies. Among other things, provider contracts usually state that you must treat all patients equally. Therefore, if you try to charge only certain patients, you will be violating this clause of your contract. Typically, the best thing you can do is simply start charging each patient as they come in, and then make explanations as needed.
Many doctors do not want to charge co-pays because they feel it will offend established patients. On the other hand, accountants are able to make use of computer programs that can estimate the amount of money any given business should be making. If it seems like your practice does not match up with information provided by insurance carriers, then you may find yourself in a good bit of financial trouble. At the same time, you will not have the revenue available from copayments to help you manage any number of bills.
While you may feel uncomfortable about collecting co-payments, it is one of the best things you can do for the financial well being of your practice. In this day and age where reimbursements are constantly decreasing and patient co-pays and deductibles are increasing, you need to have a system in place to capture the over the counter payments that you are entitled to receive. Not collecting at the time of visit, regardless of the reason, can put your practice in financial jeopardy faster than you think.
Most Policies Come With Co-Pays and Deductibles
Remember, the insurance company creates the policy and the member purchases the insurance knowing the requirements. Unfortunately, the burden has been put on the provider’s shoulders to find out what that co-pay or deductible is in order to collect the required amount. This being said, the process is sometimes difficult and even when you do your best to find out the answer, sometimes it takes more than a phone call to get the information.
The member has the policy and you are only finding out what the requirement is that the member has to fulfill. In the end, if there is a co-pay or deductible, the insurance company is not going to pay you more than what they are required to pay. The rest is the member’s responsibility. Collecting this amount should be viewed as a simple process of asking for the correct amount and getting it before the member sees the provider.
The time energy and effort to collect this co-pay is much easier at the time of service than at any other time during the encounter and much harder to collect after the patient has left the office. Keep things as simple as possible and you will be awarded many times over in the big picture.