31 Mar The ACA’s Unintended Consequence: Rising Patient Bad Debt
An article in Crain’s Chicago Business this week highlighted several of the larger health systems in the Chicagoland area and the exchange that has occurred in their uncollectible debt from patients. As more patients have become insured, the amount of charity care provided has decreased, and bad debt has increased.
The article cites that the reason for the increase hospitals are seeing in bad debt is because patients do not have the resources to cover the increasing amounts due out of pocket. Although this is certainly true, there is likely another element at play – patient due balances are not being pursued as aggressively as they could be pursued. Hospitals are changing their tactics here as well, and going after this increasing portion of their accounts receivable more aggressively.
Although this article focused on hospitals, the problem of high deductibles and increasing patient due balances is something we have all seen in our practices. Consider reviewing your approach to collecting balances due from patients. Do you attempt to collect balances due at the time of scheduling? Have you trained your front desk staff on the best methods for collecting outstanding balances from patients when they present to your office? Have you considered putting technology to work for you with a credit card on file program or implementing an interactive interface that can be accessed by patients at check in that enables them to pay their bill while they wait for their appointment?
We have received feedback recently that shows this is a topic for which many are searching for more information. Stay tuned as we will be releasing white papers in the near future that will include materials and information that you can use in your offices to improve your patient due balance collection program. Questions in the mean time? We encourage you to reach out!