Lynette Cutler Apr 14, 2022 12:08:07 PM 4 min read

Why Collecting Patient Balances Up Front Is More Important Than Ever

Collecting co-pays at the time of service has always been important, but recent changes announced in mid-March by the three major credit reporting agencies are prompting many providers to re-visit their policies for requiring payment at the time of service.

Here’s a quick overview of the changes being implemented by the credit reporting agencies:

  1. The time period for a collection agency to report a medical debt to the credit bureaus has increased from 6 months to one year. This is one year from the date the balance was placed with the collection agency.
  2. Effective July 1st, 2022, once a collection account is paid in full, all three agencies will remove the debt from the consumer’s credit report.
  3. In first half of 2023, all three agencies will no longer include unpaid medical collection debt under $500 on credit reports.

By creating more leniency for collections, these changes may lead to increased patient balances. To actively collect these patient balances up front and keep outstanding patient accounts receivable to a minimum, providers should implement the following steps:

  1. Verify eligibility on every visit
  2. Collect copays and account balances at the time of service
  3. Send out patient statements regularly
  4. Establish guidelines for setting up monthly payment plans for patients
  5. Encourage patients to read through their benefits and call their insurance directly to obtain their current deductible and co-insurance amounts
  6. Consider allocating staff time to estimating what the patient’s portion will be and collect payment before major procedures

Lynette Cutler is a Revenue Cycle Manager at Medic Management Group. Lynette joined MMG in 2014 and has an extensive background in medical billing and revenue cycle management, with over 22 years of experience in the area.