We’re in the middle of deductible season: The time of year when most insurance plans reset deductibles back to $0 and in the meantime, patients are responsible for the full contracted rate of their sessions until they have finally met their set amounts. So, what exactly does this mean to your practice?
Deductible season lasts typically the first three to five months of the year, depending on your location, medical specialty and the patient volume you support. This can be really tough on medical providers for a couple of reasons: First, without insurance payments coming in, your practice’s income can take a hit at the beginning of the year. Second, patients will be receiving higher bills than usual and not all of them will feel prepared to pay these amounts, which can become a financial burden for your business if they go overdue on their balances.
Every healthcare provider can implement targeted strategies to navigate their unique challenges and the financial landscape of the season effectively, especially when you partner with a team that knows the ins and outs of Revenue cycle management to keep your practice in good financial health through these months.
How to avoid delayed income during this time?
As a medical provider, you must ensure that all chart notes and other paperwork requested are completed and sent to insurance companies on time, typically before the end of the previous year. This proactive approach ensures steady payments at the beginning of the deductible season and help your medical billing team keep a steady revenue flow more effectively.
Always check insurance eligibility for every patient, and this includes Medicare! Look for the following items when checking eligibility and verifying benefits:
- Does the patient have an active policy? What is the effective date of that policy?
- Does the patient have a co-pay, deductible, coinsurance, or an out-of-pocket maximum?
- Does the service you provide require a prior authorization or a referral?
- Does the patient have any secondary insurance?
The easiest and most effective way to minimize the impact of deductible season, is to collect payments as accurately as possible at the time of service. Unless an insurer bars you from billing a patient (such as Medicaid).
Chances of collecting payments for deductible and co-insurance that apply to your service or co-pay balances drops 62% as soon as the patient walks out the front door according to the National Association of Healthcare Access.
Remember to always remind patients (verbally, in writing, or online) of their financial responsibility. Whether it is keeping insurance updated, patient contact information updated, and a friendly reminder that most insurers require the patient to pay the provider some portion of their bill – even Medicare.
Accessible Patient Support
One efficient solution is to offer patients the option to pay balances and submit billing questions online in real time, on their terms and not be limited by business hours or staff availability. This action not only modernizes and improves the patient’s experience but increases patient collection speeds, reduces paper statements and staffing costs while improving operational efficiency.
These strategies will help your medical practice keep a better cash flow during this deductible season. If you find yourself seeking a reliable partner to navigate these challenging times, contact us today for all-inclusive medical billing solutions tailored to your practice.