Negotiating payments cost-effectively

Make sure your billing department has a clear strategic plan in place for negotiating payments.  Having payment option guidelines and rules established is necessary. Make sure your criteria is easy to understand and implement. Remember each situation is different and should be handled individually.

When you finally reach the patient/customer’s you want to make sure you are ready to evaluate their situation fairly to reach an arrangement that they could afford while maximizing the payment amount and shortening the terms of the arrangement. The goal is to work within their means and determine the difference between wanting to pay and ability to pay.

Next edition topic: Knowing the difference between a payer and a delayer

There are situations where your patient/customer has the means to pay but doesn’t want to adjust their lifestyle that will allow them to meet their current financial obligations.   Your teams have to be able to identify the difference.

In order to accomplish that, you will need to gather information on the patient/customer’s situation and to use your organization’s standard criteria to set the limits of the payment arrangement.  Similar to a sliding scale financial assistance program, which is based on income, your organization’s standard criteria for collections should be based more on the patient’s individual circumstance.

One of the most cost-effective advantages is knowing when to send an account to collections. Remember the following adage: ‘The probability of collecting an account diminishes with time.’ Thus, the longer you hold on to a delinquent account, the less likely it will be collected.

Your collection agency has the resources, experience, and time, to handle difficult, aged, or long-term payment arrangement accounts. These are the types of accounts your billing department should consider assigning to an agency. By doing this, your billing department will have the necessary time to collect the majority of those slightly past due accounts that need their close personal attention.

Upcoming related article: When should you assign an account to collections?

Knowing when to say ‘when’ can be tough. But working with your collection agency can make that determination a whole lot easier.