January brings the start of one of the worst seasons of all: deductible season. Large deductibles that you find out about when posting an EOB and must then try and collect from the patient can cause major cash flow problems. But similar to the way you can make hurricane season more bearable with a generator and a battery-powered fan (best purchase ever!), the article below, written by our Billing Manager, Natalie, explains how you can make deductible season more bearable, too.
Find Out What the Deductible Is
If you verify the patient’s eligibility the day of the visit, you can find out what the deductible is. For most payers, you don’t have to do this over the phone; depending on your clearinghouse, you can either verify your eligibility through Medisoft or on the clearinghouse’s portal. Many payers will even tell you how much of the deductible is unpaid. If your clearinghouse does not offer this, you can try enrolling with Availity or using the Medicare SPOT tool to check for Medicare. Just remember, lots of plans have deductibles, not just Medicare!
Collect the Deductible
You don’t have to wait until you get the EOB to collect the deductible. If you know how much it is, you know your allowed amounts, and you know what services the doctor is going to render, you know how much to collect. If you’re not sure what the doctor is going to do, you can either down-code and collect that, or decide on a dollar amount you will collect from patients who have an open deductible. If you collect $50 now, it’s $50 you don’t have to chase down later – and if the patient still owes you a little bit of money because you under-estimated, it’s better than if they owed you a lot of money!
Send Statements Frequently
If you did not collect up front, you need to collect on the back end… and you should do that ASAP; don’t wait a month or two to send a statement. If you turn on Cycle Billing in Program Options, you can send statements every week and not have to worry about sending the same ones repeatedly. The sooner you send the statement, the more likely the patient is to pay it; if you have BillFlash, it makes sending them nearly painless, and if you have credit card payments turned on in BillFlash, you make it easy for the patient to pay you!
Check the Patient Balance At Check-In
When you check the patient in, Office Hours tells you the outstanding patient balance in the left-hand panel. You can even click the “Balance” button in the lower right-hand corner and print out a statement. If the patient is coming for a visit and has an outstanding balance for a deductible (or any reason), collect it!
Mix In Services That Deductibles Don’t Apply To
Depending on your specialty, you may have services you can render that deductibles don’t apply to. Under the ACA, physicals currently do not have deductibles. For Medicare, deductibles do not apply to the Annual Wellness Visit, Advanced Care Planning, and a variety of other preventative care services. Perform as many of those as you can to help offset the down-turn in cash while you wait for deductibles to be collected.
The cash doesn’t have to dry up in January and February – you just have to take a couple of extra steps to make sure it keeps flowing in.