High-deductible health insurance plans are becoming the new norm. Only a couple of years ago, plans with more than a $1,300 single-rate deductible were rare, and usually reserved for young people. Now it’s not uncommon for the only affordable health plan to come with a $6,500 deductible. In addition, more plans are only covering a percentage of the cost of care on many procedures.
In this healthcare environment, medical expenses pile up fast, and much of that financial burden is shared between patients and the medical practices that care for them. When patients can’t handle their bills, healthcare providers don’t get paid.
With the increasingly important role of direct patient-to-practice financing, practices need to be creative with medical financing options. Here are some effective strategies to make care accessible and make collecting payments easy.
Tip #1: Offer flexible payment options.
If you aren’t allowing patients to pay in a variety of ways, you’re reducing the likelihood that you’ll collect anything from them.
Your practice doesn’t need to start accepting Bitcoin or implement a barter system, but offering more payment options improves the patient experience. Working with a financing partner to offer medical loans to patients is a popular way to expand offerings to more people (and capture more revenue in the process).
The medical patient financing industry captured more than $24 billion in revenue in 2019. Amazingly, gaps in the medical financing industry still leave more than 50% of applicants unable to secure a loan.
Tip #2: Keep a credit card on file.
Sounds simple, but keeping a payment method on file to streamline future payments reduces friction. In certain systems, patients can simply log in and schedule payment using saved information from their mobile devices, taking away the hassle of writing a check or making a call.
For people who are on a payment plan, recurring payments take memory out of the equation entirely — payment is delivered seamlessly with no worries.
Tip #3: Leverage technology.
A lot of office labor gets used up sending reminders for appointments and following up on payments and overdue accounts. Thankfully, there’s tech that can help.
Billing management systems for healthcare practices can be set to automate payments, inform patients about changes to terms, follow up on delinquent accounts, and more. Everything is done paperlessly, cutting down on invoicing costs.
Taking that tedious busy work out of your finance team’s hands will free them up to do more of the work that really matters.
According to research from GHX, 76% of large healthcare companies receive fewer than half of all payments electronically. Data shows that it costs as much as $31 to manually process each invoice.
Tip #4: Offer pay-over-time plans.
More than half of Americans have a credit score that prevents them from accessing medical loans. Not only can that be ethically challenging, it can also be bad for business. A number of practices are teaming up with third-party patient financing firms like Healthcare Finance Direct (HFD) to structure custom plans for their patients.
Pay-over-time plans streamline payments and allow practices to plan for risk of default. HFD can facilitate recurring auto-debit payments and provide patients with an online portal and tools to manage their own accounts.
In return, practices receive a down payment followed by monthly payments (with interest) through the life of the agreement.
“Pay-over-time payment terms allow more patients to access the care they need.”
Tip #5: Build a holistic patient finance team.
Say “finance team” and many will visualize people tucked in a back room, all neck deep in spreadsheets. The reality can be very different though — your finance team has a hand in a lot of different tasks, from sales to onboarding to fulfillment. They are your patient finance consultants, your marketing assistants, maybe even your social media gurus.
Why not build a team that holistically connects front and back office operations? By using the collective talents of your team, you can come up with strategies tailored for your practice, your audience, and your community.
Tip #6: Use smarter marketing.
Patient financing is more than just a tool for generating revenue, it’s a valuable incentive for people to receive care from your practice.
Many prospective patients don’t get the care they need because they’re afraid of the cost. Pay-over-time payment arrangements agreements make life-changing procedures from Lasik to orthodontics accessible for everyone. If you aren’t making that part of your marketing, you’re missing an opportunity to speak to a whole new segment of patients. That means driving more revenue for your practice.
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