Tag Archives: dental practice

DIY Collections – Don’t Risk It!

11 Sep

There are very clear rules about what can and can’t be said during debt collections.

The debt collection industry is governed by so many rules and regulations it could make your head spin. That’s why do-it-yourself debt collections can quickly get a company into hot water with state and federal regulators.

What are the rules that govern debt collections? What are debt collection agents never allowed to say and do? This article explores common mistakes businesses make when attempting DIY debt collections.

Bill Collector

Debt Collections No No’s

Three things you can never say when attempting debt collection:

  • Threaten to tell a boss, coworkers, or family about a past due balance. While you can contact work to try to find the customer, never share details about the debt to any third party.
  • Threaten to arrest the past due customer.
  • Don’t say, “I’ll just keep calling you.” Legally, you can’t call the person before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm. If you call the customer at work and they ask you to stop calling there, you have to comply, however, the request must be in writing.

Understanding the rules means following federal legislation called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the guidelines set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Understanding debt collection rules is important for avoiding federal and state penalties.

If all this seems like a lot of rules for you to keep track of, you would be right. Debt collections are a highly regulated activity that makes it risky to take a DIY approach.

The good news is that there are services like TSI to help ensure debt recovery that complies with all rules and regulations. Our proven system is compliant, effective, and guaranteed.

Bonus Tip:

Various government agencies provide guidelines that help ensure that consumer rights are protected. There are specific practices that collectors must always avoid.  

Debt collectors cannot use unfair practices to collect a debt. This means debt collection practice can never include the following [Do not]:

  • Attempt to collect charges in addition to the debt. That is, unless they are allowed by contract or specific state law.
  • Deposit a post-dated check early.
  • Communicate by postcard.
  • Use language or a symbol on the envelope of a letter that indicates the correspondence is from a debt collector.

Consumers have rights that must be honored, which is why strict guidelines and regulations govern debt recovery practices. Not only is it essential that debt collectors treat consumers with respect, in addition, there are specific practices that collectors must always avoid. For instance, did you know that an individual can send a “cease and desist” correspondence to a debt collector – which means the debt collector is required to stop contacting the customer. The problem stems from an overly aggressive debt collector that goes after the customer over and over again in a short amount of time. Under federal law, this is considered harassment and if the activity continues after the cease and desist letter is received, the customer can report the debt collector to governing agencies.

Want higher recovery of past due accounts? Don’t put your business at risk by using a DIY approach; instead, put TSI’s simple system to work for your business. It’s convenient and designed with small- and mid-sized businesses in mind, AND interfaces directly with most accounting and practice management software.

Contact me for more information on how to:
  • Collect more of your A/R
  • Collect your A/R faster
  • Stay 100% compliant while collecting your A/R
  • Save both staff time and money

How Debt Collection Affects Revenue Cycle in Healthcare

2 Apr

medical-debt

Debt collection is a hot topic in healthcare revenue cycle circles. That’s because hospitals are facing higher costs, declining reimbursement, along with high-deductible insurance policies and patients that simply cannot afford to pay.

This article looks at how debt collection best practices could improve the revenue cycle in healthcare. What are the issues affecting debt in healthcare?

Debt Collection and Medical Billing 

Medical billing serves at the core of healthcare revenue cycle. But Rev Cycle Intelligence points out the elephant in the room: Medical billing is often riddled with errors.

Simple mistakes in the patient billing record are a challenge in the revenue cycle. Collecting patient information at the front desk lays the reimbursement framework that every revenue cycle is built upon.

When you cull out simple human mistakes, providers are still left with the complexities inherent in billing practices that are unique to every payer. That alone creates glitches in clinical cash flow when reimbursements are submitted and rejected by the payer.

Another problem with medical billing is tied to the healthcare paradigm itself. It is a patchwork of disparate providers – even within a single health system. If the steps to getting paid hinge upon a previous interaction, but documentation are peppered with missing pieces, the likelihood of that provider being reimbursed by a payer drops with every missed checkbox.

A frequent issue that occurs well before the bill is generated is the issue of collecting a patient’s co-pay. Even when the co-pay is $20, the medical practitioner at the front desk may fail to collect it. For clinical administrators, it can be difficult to ask for payment from a sick patient. Now imagine the struggles when a patient has a $2,000 deductible. But failing to collect this revenue up front does nothing to alleviate patient responsibility for their bill. In fact, it almost certainly guarantees the need for debt collection later. Rev Cycle Intelligence states that 90% of the 12.7 million Americans participating in 2016’s open enrollment had high deductible insurance.

InsideARM has been waving a red flag around this issue, citing statistics that say, “The percentage of consumers not paying their total hospital bills will increase to 95 percent by 2020.” Even worse news for hospital revenue cycle, the volume of patients who are only paying a part of their overall hospital bill has declined from around 90 percent in 2015 to 77 percent in 2016.

As bad debt rises, healthcare providers are turning to debt collection agencies to help save their revenue cycle.

Debt Collection Improves Healthcare Revenue Cycle

TSI specializes in debt collection in the healthcare space. With over 45+ years of healthcare collection experience, we use an empathetic approach to collections to protect the patient relationships you’ve worked hard to cultivate. We understand the delicacy inherent in keeping patient satisfaction scores high while still collecting on an unpaid medical debt. That’s why we’ve invested in technology that can help us collect on all bad debt in ways that acknowledge and respond to patient payment preferences across multiple digital venues as well as through more traditional formats.

In addition, our proprietary data analytics platform, CollectX boosts your results by identifying the most liquid accounts and ensuring they receive the appropriate collections activity. Since implementation of CollectX, our clients have seen on average a 22% lift to their liquidation rates. Maintain your patient relationships, while improving your revenue cycle, with TSI.

To learn more about how to optimize your revenue, contact me today at 888-780-1333 or at david.wiener@cashflowstrategies.us.

Not all Debtors are created equal!

27 Feb
After being in the ARM (accounts receivable management) industry now for many years, I can honestly say I’ve heard almost every story in the book from CEOs, CFOs, healthcare administrators, doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, billing managers to janitors as the reasoning or excuses from clients as to why their outstanding balance had not been paid.
Here are some common excuses:
  • They have been traveling.
  • They just lost their job.
  • They just moved and were not getting the invoices.
  • They came across financial hardships and needed some extra time.
  • They just had surgery and have been in the hospital so needed some time to get their things organized.
  • They weren’t satisfied with the service or product so didn’t feel the need to pay for it.
  • They were used to paying all their vendors after 60 or 90 days.
Here are some off-the-wall responses:
  • They said they were going to get their checkbook from their car and never returned.
  • They didn’t remember ever ordering that product or service.
  • They’re going through a divorce and to call the soon to be ex-spouse who is responsible for the balance, not them.
  • They were wondering if their creditor would be willing to barter instead.
It might seem odd to hear even the common excuses listed above if you aren’t in a business that extends credit or if you are in general a good paying consumer.
It may even seem like an episode from a spin off series of the Twilight Zone where customers walk into Costco, load their shopping carts full of items, walk past the cash registers, give the friendly greeters their mailing address to send them a bill and walk right out.  Luckily for Costco, it isn’t the case as they don’t extend credit (only through a 3rd party financing credit card partner).  Unfortunately for millions of other businesses around the world that essentially happens every day.
In my opinion the most vital thing to understand if you are in a business that extends credit or carries an accounts receivable is:
NOT ALL DEBTORS ARE CREATED EQUAL
I explain to my clients that they’re only going to have to deal with 4 types of payers.  I laughed the other day when a client told me that 4 payers is 3 more than he’d care to deal with.  Can you blame him?
Here are the 4 Payer Types:
  1. Dutiful  (Always pays their bills on time, probably has an 800 or higher credit score.)
  2. Distracted (That busy working professional who is good for the money but hasn’t yet gotten to all 10-12 monthly bills on their kitchen table.  They simply need a reminder text, email, phone call, letter and they’ll pay up.)
  3. Disrespectful (Has disregarded and ignored at least 2 billing cycles from the same creditor and hasn’t called to explain or apologize about non-payment.  Are paying some bills more timely, but they have chosen which bills to put off that don’t seem so urgent.)
  4. Deliberate (Have expressed to their creditor verbally that they will not pay the balance owed or expressed through non verbal cues of long periods of silence, mail returns and disconnected phone lines.  These are the most high risk debtors.)
Now be honest with yourself, which category do you fall under?
I want to note that, in my experience, these 4 payers types are found in all socio-economic income levels, meaning some wealthy people fall into the category of Deliberate high risk debtors while people from low income levels can be in the category of Dutiful payers.
I won’t get to into details about the psychology of why these 4 types of payers/debtors respond, react or do nothing in this article.  What I can tell you is by simply understanding that there are 4 payer types and that not all debtors are created equal puts you FAR ahead of the game and your competition.
The BILLION DOLLAR question is how do I efficiently and professionally address each of the 4 payer types to recover my past due balances? (That is if you’re in a business that extends credit, if you don’t have to worry about this then lucky you!!)
I would love to hear your comments, create some dialogue around the 4 payer types and hear your ideas on how your business effectively maximizes your accounts receivable in-house.

INSURANCE MONEY WON’T PAY YOUR BILLS ANYMORE, DOC!

16 Jun

I was told today by a doctor that he refrains from pushing too hard to collect from a patient who owes him money, because of all the money he makes on the patient from insurance companies.  He is willing to write off patient balances, to keep making insurance money from the patient visits, and doesn’t want to offend the patient into leaving the practice by insisting he pay his bill.

This is the general attitude many doctors had 25-30 years ago.  It may have had some validity back them but times have changed!  Insurance money alone will not keep your doors open and your lights on any more doc.  You are putting your practice in jeopardy by not seeing what is happening around you!

High deductible health plans are the norm these days, and co-insurance is rising all the time.  Despite what the government tells us, there are more and more patients who do not have insurance, or have adequate insurance.  Self pay is now the highest payer in the medical world behind Medicare and Medicaid, and it is catching up fast.  According to recent statistics, patient balances now represent over 35% of a doctors income and soon, if major changes aren’t made, will be over 50%.

You can’t wish it away, or ignore it away.  You MUST find a way to motivate patients to pay you, and pay you faster than before.

Medicine, whether you like or not, or understand it or not, is a business.  You are trading a service for money, and the patient knows it.  They also know when you are leaving them alone about their bill so that you can continue to collect insurance money. Not only do they know, but guess who they tell?  EVERYBODY!!!  And guess what happens?  You get all the patients who don’t want to pay their bills.  Great!  Until, that is, until you watch your patient A/R go through the roof.  By the time you see this happen, you are already in trouble.

Don’t waste time.  There are automated tools to help your practice both maintain your good relationships with your patients, AND get them to pay you their portion of the bill sooner.  Call me today at 888-780-1333 and I will tell you about them.  Isn’t it worth 20-30 minutes of your time to keep the lights on in your practice over the long haul?

Top 10 Tips To Improve Collections (Part 1)

6 May

It’s a problem faced by virtually every business and medical practice – how to deal with customers / patients who pay their bill late, or not at all.  While customers and patients expect prompt and professional service, they don’t always meet the same standard when it comes to paying their bill.

Accounts not paid promptly can severely impact the cash flow of a business or practice.  A clearly defined and carefully communicated, yet diplomatic payment policy, may help avoid difficult collections situations.

TIP #!

HAVE A DEFINED CREDIT POLICY

The first step is to clearly define when accounts are to be paid.  If customers/patients are not informed that accounts are to be paid on time, chances are they will pay them late, or sometimes not at all.  Make sure that your payment terms and expectations are clearly stated in writing to each person.

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