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to determine the estimated patient cost, and a second insurance verification as the date of the procedure gets closer, Erbert advises. “Many insurance plans are monthly,


and if patients are not paying their pre- miums, they may not have coverage when they arrive at your ASC,” she says. “ASCs used to be able to verify insurance two weeks in advance and not worry about a change in coverage, but now we are advising our centers to do it 3–5 days before the procedure date.”


Prioritize Staffing Needs With all of the work that is needed to ensure


effective collections efforts,


ASCs must make staffing the applicable areas of the business office a priority, Ciluffo says. “You need to make sure you are properly staffed to thoroughly and accurately perform all of this extra work ahead of actually seeing the patient for his or her scheduled care. If you have front desk staff that


lack critical customer service skills and are uncomfortable requesting and collecting money upfront, you are going to end up chasing the money on the back end.” Employing adequate staff is impor-


tant, but just as important is provid- ing training to staff on how to properly educate patients about their financial responsibility, Robinson advises. “Take into consideration that patients usually do not understand their insurance plan,” she says. “Typi- cally the person verifying the benefits in an ASC will spend much of their time explaining the rules of plans; the difference between a co-pay, deduct- ible and co-insurance; and why it is still going to cost patients a large amount of money for the surgery when they have health insurance.” Ciluffo adds, “Your physicians, board of directors and ASC adminis- trators must support the front desk on upfront patient collections.”


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ASCA CAREER CEN TER 14 ASC FOCUS SEPTEMBER 2016


Work With Patients Utilize available tools to give your patients options for paying, such as online bill pay, setting up a reasonable payment plan, having payments come directly out of a checking account via electronic transfer or automatically charging credit cards, Ciluffo says. Even


when providing these


options, it is still advisable to col- lect as much as you can before the patient leaves the ASC, Robinson says. “Some patients will still not pay on their payment plan. If you are going to offer a payment plan, I have found that a plan longer than six months often does not work because the patient won’t maintain their pay- ments the entire time.” It is up to the ASC to ensure that patients are not surprised when they learn that they are responsible for paying for some part of their care, Ciluffo says. “Have your payment policies posted on your web site and indicate that payment is expected at the time of service,” he advises. “Have the policy at your front desk so that you can hand it to the patient. When patients are called by a mem- ber of the business office staff with the estimation, that’s an appropriate time to ask how the patient intends to pay and even to take payment infor- mation then, if possible.” If your staff carefully follows your


ASC’s collections policies and holds patients accountable, Erbert says, your collections efforts should be success- ful. “There is no other industry in the world that allows you to get away with not paying for the services you receive. If you make sure you are following the rules you have established along with reducing


the insurance verification


time, I do not think you will see your collections affected much.”


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