Effective Medical Billing Strategy


The majority of substance abuse treatment centers hold very lenient service policies. Patients arrive with the premise implanted in their minds to receive the best health care available, but not to think anything about the bill at the time of service, especially if insurance is a factor. With the current economic decline, patients have lost insurance coverage or have been forced to accept higher co-pays and deductibles. These changes in policies occur unknown to unwary doctors and medical billing workers.


Use Successful Addiction Treatment Billing Strategy

The key to effective medical billing and collection practices revolves around professionalism, good communication and clear, concise written policy. Medical practices and addiction treatment facilities are realizing that patient-oriented focus on billing and collection results in both customer and medical practice satisfaction both short term and long term. Medical billing workers can increase cash flow as well as collect current and past due balances more effectively using patient-friendly strategies.


Managing billing and patient care with patient-friendly strategies implemented reduces office and patient stress, even if the collection process must take on a legal aspect. According to research from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Healthcare Financial Management Association and the American Hospital Association, the effectiveness of this approach is proven to create contented clients and more successful collection results.


Proven Collection for Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Create a written policy and a standard protocol for collection, taking into consideration the various financial situations the practice will encounter. With a policy encompassing various scenarios, medical billing workers understand the most efficient and effective collection techniques to obtain payment, such as never argue with a patient, don’t get emotional, and don’t sound overly confident or condescending. At all times, be kind and friendly with the patient and speak directly to him or her.


Thoroughly educate new patients on written financial policies and their responsibilities. Interact with patients to be certain they understand the behavioral health billing and insurance processes. Keep regular patients informed of any changes to policy. In a friendly manner, ask questions regarding their circumstances if changes in payment habits are noticed.


Thorough completion of the patient intake form is vital. All patient information must be collected at the time he or she comes in for an appointment or shortly thereafter. Update all drug rehab patient information including payment and insurance with every visit. Upon arrival, thoroughly explain what insurance will or will not cover and collect co-pays or deductibles. If the addiction treatment patient doesn’t pay initially, inform them they are required to pay costs before leaving.

Institute a discount program for self-payers or those paying accounts in full each visit. Accept credit and debit cards payments to eliminate issues with cash and checks. Provide take home payment envelopes for clients completely unable to pay during a visit. Advise them that a prompt follow-up will be conducted with a statement or additional collection calls to resolve outstanding balances.


Legal Collection Procedures

Learn the procedures and create an office file with current information regarding bad debt collection in the substance abuse treatment practice’s locale by contacting the local bar association or small claims court. Keep accurate phone records, including voicemails of the quantity, dates, times and dialog of calls to patients with outstanding invoices. Keep record of the letters, reminders and past due invoices, documenting mailing dates, sent out.


During non-payment discussions, document the reasons for non-payment in the client file. Make arrangements for partial payments or a payment plan. If there is no response or effort to pay, send a certified letter requesting a return receipt. Restate the past due balance and previous unsuccessful collection attempts. This documentation is required by the majority of courts to proceed with legal action.


If the letter is returned unsigned or is received without payment or contact established, begin legal action in small claims court or with an attorney. With the signed patient contract and supporting collection documentation, bad debt recovery assistance is resolved more effectively.


Good communication is necessary to educate the patient regarding balances due for services rendered. With patient-friendly practices implemented, legal action processes, continual statement reminders and bad debt write-offs decrease dramatically. A more efficient billing process and long-term satisfied clients are the end results.