Medical payments are complicated. A reported 76 percent of consumers were confused by bills from their health care providers in 2015. Now, with the health care market moving toward high deductible health plans (HDHPs), consumers are facing an increase in financial responsibility.
Plans with higher deductibles have lower monthly premium payments, but consumers are responsible for paying for their care before insurance pays any benefits. It’s natural that patients are not only confused, but frazzled by their outstanding medical bills.
The shift to HDHPs is making it more difficult for medical practices to collect payments. Studies reveal a 20 percent drop in the likelihood of collecting dues after the patient leaves the office. That’s a huge chunk of change your practice may never receive.
Moreover, patient payments could be delayed further if your business doesn’t follow security best practices (more on that later). So, how can you accommodate patients, ensure your practice gets paid in full and maintain your business’ security? Here are our recommendations.
While opinions differ, some estimate that patients will become responsible for half of all medical bills by the end of the decade. If that proves true, more patients will struggle to pay their bills in full on the spot. The good news is that nine in 10 consumers want to know their payment responsibility up front. You can meet your patients halfway with these flexible billing options:
Although some consumers still prefer paper, more are now opting to go digital. In terms of receipts, 90 percent of individuals prefer digitally stored receipts in the cloud over paper receipts, according to RFTConnect. Going paperless benefits your practice, too. It eliminates the cost and need of storing receipts and the risks associated with storing patient’s raw credit card information on Post-Its or in filing cabinets.
With our Virtual Terminal, payments can be processed electronically. Customers can sign for payments digitally from the convenience of their own homes or at your office. While the practice’s digital receipt is stored in the cloud, patients receive a copy via email.
You can automate patient payments and maintain a paperless setup with our electronic, recurring billing system. Patients’ card information is encrypted and securely stored in the Virtual Terminal, so there’s no need to track patients down every time a payment is due. A recurring billing agreement is collected and signed at the beginning of the payment plan, so you have authorization to charge the patient as scheduled.
This can be done with a hosted checkout on your website or via a patient portal with integrated payments. Notify patients of outstanding payments with the invoice number, and let them pay from the comfort of their own homes or on the go. You can stop waiting for patients to call to pay or mail a check, which improves your practice’s cash flow.
Partnering with a Merchant Account Provider that accepts all types of payments will help you accommodate all patients’ preferences and ensure you get paid on time more often. It’s a win-win.
You want to meet your customers halfway, but you shouldn’t compromise security in doing so. There are several ways to accommodate your patients, improve cash flow and keep your business secure:
You should avoid middleware for two reasons: First, it puts your practice within PCI scope and may subject it to annual audits, which are timely and cost money. Second, middleware means the payment software is downloaded to your servers. In the case of a hack, you could be responsible for losing patients’ personal information and card data.
Hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service were recently hacked by the ‘WannaCry’ malware hack. That wasn’t a fluke. Across all industries, health care has the highest cost per stolen record at $355. If hacked, you will not only be facing a delay in payments from patients with compromised information, you will also be facing a mountain of painful fines. Opting for cloud-based payment processing will protect you and your customers from a hack, and prevent delayed cash flow, since nothing is stored on your servers.
Despite facing very low fraud rates, medical practices may encounter payment delays if EMV cards are not processed correctly. To encourage the acceptance of EMV cards, banks are initiating chargebacks on EMV transactions that are swiped with a magnetic stripe reader instead of a chip-card reader. In the case of a bank-initiated chargeback, the cardholder wins by default even if you collected a signature. If practices continue to process EMV cards incorrectly, they can expect major delays in receiving patient payments, as banks will favor cardholders.
Medical practices typically focus on providing the best care. With patients facing increased financial responsibility in the coming years, health care providers stand to lose a lot of money if they don’t adapt to the current changes rocking the industry. By improving services around patient payments, practices will be able to collect all dues in a timely manner, keep patients satisfied and maintain security.
What are your thoughts on these methods of keeping your patients safe and expediting your payment processing? We'd love to hear from you!