Healthcare News & Insights

Payment plans can make collections easier, boost revenue

We know hospitals can’t function if patients don’t pay, but we also know how hard it is for some patients to pay for their services or procedures. And because healthcare costs are rising, it’s more difficult than ever to improve collections at your organization. 

It’s easy to predict which patients may have trouble paying for their care: Self-pay patients and those with high-deductible plans have a larger financial burden than other patients.

However, there’s a way to help those patients and make sure your hospital is getting paid in a timely manner, according to Healthcare Finance News (HFN).

The solution involves integrating flexible payment plans into your revenue cycle, if you haven’t already. It’ll take time (and potentially some reworking of your hospital’s policies and procedures), but helping patients pay their bills will cut down on write-offs and boost revenue.

Payment plan basics

If you decide to implement flexible payment options at your hospital, you’ll first want to determine your payment minimum.

A minimum of $5 will most likely be too low, although if that’s all a patient can pay at the time of service, it’s better than nothing. A $25 minimum would be better, and it’ll ensure patients are taking tangible steps to pay their bills.

But what about patients who truly can’t pay anything? AnMed Health in Georgia has developed a program for patients who won’t be able to afford care, such as those who are at 200% of the federal poverty level.

If a patient isn’t able to pay her bill, the hospital has her fill out an assistance application to determine whether she’s eligible for a full write-off. Financial counselors also help patients determine if they’re eligible for Medicaid or other assistance. This approach takes more time, but the revenue gains are worth it.

And if none of those methods work, AnMed Health directs patients to payment specialist AccessOne, which the hospital has a partnership with.

The ultimate aim of a hospital is to care for patients, so sometimes the best option is to outsource the financial and insurance claims responsibilities to experts.

Revenue cycle

Understanding your organization’s revenue cycle is essential for implementing a payment plan, and it may be slow going at first – especially if your hospital is small or in a rural area.

But many patients prefer payment plans because they don’t enjoy making late payments or not being able to pay. They want to settle their balances, and increasing the opportunities for them to do so will keep them coming back.

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