Wish you could get your family account balances under control? This hot topic was covered in a Lemonade webinar by our presenter, Diane Crecelius, founder and CEO of her own successful pediatric private practice. We’ve distilled it down to these following salient points.
The first point, as obvious as it may seem, is worth emphasizing: you need to collect a very high percentage of all funds due you for your practice to succeed. This means that you need to keep unpaid family balances close to zero at all times. At my own pediatric practice, we have worked out specific procedures that make this possible. Here’s how we do it and how you can do it, too.
Educating the Parents Early
Success starts with educating the families right at the start of therapy, before they owe a single dollar. The employee responsible for collecting payments from parents and insurance companies should describe the insurance payment process in detail. They should stress that the system was set up by the insurance companies, not your practice.
The family needs to understand that a payment will be due each time the child receives therapy and it is expected the parents will keep their balance at zero.
Go over their benefits sheet with them. At the end, ask the family questions like there in a friendly, caring manner:
- Do you understand that you’re going to owe a copay every visit?
- Do you understand what your deductible is?
- What questions do you have for me?
Never Let Those Balances Mount!
There are a few reasons you must never let balances mount:
- When the balances get high, it’s much harder for families to deal with them. Maybe they don’t realize how much is accumulating. Maybe there’s a change in their financial situation and they’re struggling. It’s always easier for them to cope with small payments each visit. Whatever it is, keeping the balance owed at or near zero is better for everyone.
- If the balance gets high and they aren’t aware of it until it’s brought to their attention, they may start cancelling appointments.
- Balances that are only paid in part become confusing. Charges for services delivered at some point in the past are confusing because memories fade. Balances paid at each appointment mean there’s no opportunity for confusion.
Offering Alternate Financing
Suppose you talk to the family and they’re having a hard time paying their co-pays or co-insurance. It’s time to talk to them about alternative ways of financing their child’s therapy. Make sure you are set up to accept CareCredit. Tell them that there’s a way CareCredit can be interest-free if paid within six months.
Also, see if there are other sources of financing available to parents. You might find lenders at the county, state or federal level, or perhaps non-profit organizations can help. Any alternative financing you find, it helps keep your kids in therapy.
Getting Insurance Companies to Pay Their Share
This is the other part of ensuring your collections stay close to 100%! If the insurance company is dragging their feet, talk to the family and ask them to call the company. The family should help you push the claim through so it gets paid. (Insurance companies want their policyholders to be happy so they’ll renew their policies. They’re not as concerned if you’re happy.)
Why to Monitor Cancelled Appointments
Families that are having trouble paying their share may start to cancel appointments. You should have someone monitoring cancelled appointments and noting if the family has a balance due. This is the time to offer them alternative financing.
Go over CareCredit and other alternatives you have available. Be sure to offer this help before the balances get too high! And offer these alternatives even if they were offered before and rejected. Viewpoints change and maybe alternative financing would be accepted this time.
Important Note: Many funding sources will not pay for treatment that has already been provided, only treatment that’s yet to be delivered. So start talking to the family while the balance is still low.
The Care Factor is Essential
Make sure your staff, such as the front desk or accounts person, regularly ask how therapy is going. Above all else, you want to make sure the child is making gains and that the parents are happy with your care.
Whatever problems your practice is going through, others are experiencing the same pain. For more practical tips and tools for a smoother-running practice, attend one of our free practice management webinars for pediatric private practice owners only.