Too often, patients and practices alike are caught off guard by the resetting of deductibles on January 1.  When patients forget they’ll be responsible for a larger portion (or all) of the cost of their services, it can be difficult for front desk staff to handle the situation if they’re not prepared — and even physicians and managers find it hard to refuse a request to “please just bill me.”

The best solution to the problem is to prevent it.  Make sure everyone in the practice knows that more patients will be responsible for payment until their new deductibles are met — and that patients need to be informed and reminded before their visit.  That means mentioning that deductibles have re-set when they set appointments, and checking patient responsibility amounts and outstanding balances before reminder calls — and alerting patients to what they’ll be expected to pay at visit time.  Knowing that patients have been informed about their responsibility should make it easier for the front desk to collect in a matter-of-fact way.  (“How will you be paying today, Ms. Jones?”)

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