Offending patients shouldn’t be what stops you from collecting on accounts that are overdue. What circumstances like this call for is an approach that isn’t going to harm the relationships you have worked so tirelessly to establish.
Your practice needs two things: to retain patients and to stay in business!
Emails and phone follow-ups are often all that’s needed to attract payments from your late-paying patients. Most people intend to pay, some just forget.
One survey of retail healthcare patients found that 98% want to settle their medical bills, but they become confused about what they owe and require reminders. If the patient lacks the funds to square things up then, rest assured, no matter how aggressive the letters you send, it isn’t going to prize non-existent funds from even the most willing fingers.
What physician practices need to do when they rethink their approach is to rewrite the medical collection letters with three thoughts in the front of the mind:
Good collection letters need to convey a sense of urgency but not in an intimidating way. Your patients’ trust will break down when threats and mutterings about "final warnings" are made. This is bound to make people much less inclined to pay.
To stress the seriousness without crossing any lines requires the incorporation of messages that you understand there may be difficulties that are making payment difficult but emphasising that the payments are relied upon if the medical practice is to be able to provide quality medical care.
Take care when mentioning an attorney or that you are thinking of turning a patient’s account over to a credit bureau. Be factual and inform the patient what he or she owes, what the bill covers and what the options may be for setting up a payment plan. By helping patients understand their medical bills is a much more effective method than making threats!
Collection letters to patients whose bills are 30 days overdue need to differ from ones sent to patients who haven’t been seen or heard of for many months.
The initial letter should be friendly, as if you are just checking in. It’s a reminder not a demand and should offer the opportunity of discussing the account.
Subsequent letters need to become progressively firmer and suggest that if payment isn’t forthcoming in a reasonable time then alternative action may be considered. The statistics show that only 2% of patients think shouldn’t be obliged to pay medical bills at all. What practices should focus on are the majority of patients who want to pay but haven’t yet done so. Carefully worded letters can be very persuasive.
A professional debt collection agency like RAB, Inc. can take care of this for you.