If you aren’t diligently collecting co-pays you probably aren’t doing well at collecting co-insurance amounts either. I’ve seen this over and over in practices. A lax attitude toward co-pays carries all the way through the billing process. Here are some important points about co-pays and some tips on how to ensure your staff becomes consistent at collecting them.
If you aren’t diligently collecting co-pays you probably aren’t doing well at collecting co-insurance amounts either.
How Important Are Co-Pays?
- Your contracts with payers typically require you to collect the designated co-pay. Your practice may be found in breach of contract if you are not collecting them. The consequences of breaching your contract could be extremely damaging to the financial health of your practice.
- Co-pays start the financial discussion. Payers are doing the practice a favor by requiring co-pay collection. The relatively small amount of most co-pays gives you the perfect opportunity to introduce the financial discussion about the larger amount that is likely to be owed after treatment.
- The co-pay amount coupled with the adjudicated amount from the payer in many cases covers your cost for the appointment. Without it, you could be losing money on many appointments.
- Waiving co-pays can signal to your patients that you are not serious about getting paid. Alternately, collecting them signals that you expect to be paid. It may sound a bit simplistic but human nature proves it out again and again.
A practice that is serious about getting paid will take every reasonable step to ensure that every patient who owes a co-pay, pays it. There are many reasons (maybe excuses) for not collecting co-pays. Doctors don’t want to feel as though they are pressuring their patients for money. Staff is uncomfortable having the financial conversations. Administration doesn’t want to add more burden to the front desk. And many other reasons. None of them really good enough to justify the failure to collect co-pays.
A lax attitude toward co-pays carries all the way through the billing process.
When handled well, co-pays are the key to collecting everything. There are some simple steps to make co-pays work for both patient and practice. Try these and watch your patients AND your cash flow respond positively.
Tips for Collecting Co-Pays.
- Make sure you do an eligibility and benefits check. This will give you the correct co-pay amount. It will also alert you to any issues with insurance that need to be addressed before treatment.
- If possible, inform patients about their co-pay amount before they arrive for their appointment. Alert them via email, text, or phone call. This will eliminate surprises and prepare the patient for the overall financial conversation.
- Can you dedicate a front desk person to collecting co-pays and having financial conversations? If you can, you will simplify check-in while helping patients prepare for their financial responsibilities. (Several recent studies show that patient satisfaction peaks when practices prepare them for the costs of treatment).
- Provide as many options as possible. Cash, check, or charge with the ability to retain card-on-file information. Remember that for every patient that gives you a card-on-file you eliminate the need to have them standing in front of you at the desk. You can simply bring their account up and charge the card.
- Prepare scripts of common questions and answers for your staff. Anyone who collects money from patients should be equipped with easy, consistent answers to common questions. Questions or statements like, ‘I thought my co-pay was lower.’ or ‘I have insurance, why do I have to pay this amount?’ or ‘I didn’t come prepared to pay today.’ These come up almost daily. Take the time to equip your staff with the right answers and you’ll be successful at collecting everything that is owed.
Setting the stage for a successful and profitable practice starts with the simple fundamentals. Collecting co-pays is to a healthcare practice what dribbling is to a basketball player, or proper grip to a golfer, or threading a needle to a seamstress. Without these simple steps, the entire process will fail, and your practice will suffer in ways you may not recover from.
Set your practice up to collect everything by collecting co-pays consistently and completely. For more information, download our helpful guide to collecting more from patients.
Use this Guide 'To Collect Every Patient Dollar'