03 Jan Supporting Your Staff When Deductibles Reset

With a new year comes new deductibles. With nearly half of insured Americans covered under high deductible health plans, making sure your practice is ready to collect patient payments is essential to maintaining a steady cash flow in the first two quarters of the year.

When deductibles reset to their full annual amount, patients may not, however, be able to pay their bills in full. It’s critical that your staff is able to be both sensitive and firm when having financial conversations at check-in or check-out.

Your staff should approach patients with courtesy and professionalism. The idea here is to have a conversation and not a confrontation, as patients are often already worried about both their medical conditions and often, their ability to pay.

Support your staff and educate your patients by creating a simple and straightforward payment policy, including a statement that payment is due at the time of service, outlining accepted payment methods, payment plan options, and encouraging a credit card on file (CCOF), if your payment vendor, practice management software, or EHR can support that function. Offering online bill pay through your patient portal can also make the collection process go more smoothly.

Additionally, ensure that your staff are knowledgeable about the language of insurance. Making sure that practice employees understand common elements such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, and are able to answer questions will reassure patients that you have their best interests in mind.

Consider creating scripts for your staff to help them with these often awkward conversations. The AMA offers some excellent examples that you can adapt for your particular practice here.

Finally, never feel obligated to apologize for collecting a balance due.  You deserve to get paid for the care and services you provide to your patients.

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