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through a credit card authorization form, this form should be kept in a secure place, such as with your busi- ness office manager in a locked file cabinet in a locked office, to protect the patient’s information, Orseno ad- vises. “The form needs to be signed on the date of service. You should in- clude a note in the electronic sched- uling system indicating that a credit card authorization form is on file for a particular patient. When that pa- tient arrives, have the business office manager obtain the patient’s signa- ture and lock it back in the file cabi- net. Once the claim has been adju- dicated, the patient should be called prior to charging his or her card.” If you do not use a credit card au- thorization form or if patients do not have a credit card to cover their fi- nancial responsibility, you will want to discuss other methods of payment, such as cash, check or, if applicable, a third-party payment plan, Sackos says. It is important that your ASC prepares patients to arrive ready to pay for their services regardless of the method of payment. If a patient will have no financial responsibility, this should be con- veyed in advance as well, she adds. “If a patient does not owe anything on the date of service, a courtesy call to let them know that benefits have been verified should still occur.”

Assign Appropriate Personnel Payment can be a sensitive matter, so ASCs will want to select who calls patients to discuss financial re- sponsibility carefully, Sackos says. “Typically, the person performing insurance verification will be com- municating with the patient regard- ing their financial responsibility. It is important that this person has strong communication skills, understands the center’s financial policy and ad- heres to it. When payment arrange-


ASCs that

are hesitant to take

With the confusing complexities of health

care, I think patients are even more unsure about their out-of- pocket costs for their procedure.”

— Michael Orseno, Regent Surgical Health

ments are made, administrators and business office managers may also play a key role in these discussions.” Orseno agrees with Sackos about

the importance of an ASC’s finan- cial policy. “Arranging for payment should be more of a matter of policy and not a matter of choice. As long as the policy receives board approval, when you speak with patients, your patient financial counselor should say it’s your center’s policy to ar- range for payment prior to their ser- vice and then explain how they can pay for your services. Of course, you need to be prepared and willing to work with patients who don’t have a credit card or don’t want to provide that information.”

this approach because they believe that patients will not want to provide their credit card information prior to their procedure, says Orseno, should consider that there are many instances when consumers are required to authorize payment in advance of receiving a service. “People do this all the time, such as when reserving a hotel room and booking a flight, and the services your ASC provides are no different. Fifteen years ago, it seemed like everyone was afraid to collect co-pays before the procedure. But as more health care institutions started to collect them, now most people don’t hesitate about paying their co-pay up front. I believe the same thing will happen with deductibles and co-insurance as well. The more you do it, and the more health care institutions

that do it,

it’s going to become second nature to people and they are not going to think twice about providing payment information in advance. It just has to be consistent.” There are other benefits of work-

ing to arrange payment in advance. “Doing it up front also allows you to determine if a patient will not be able to pay for your services so you can initiate your financial hardship process ahead of time,” Orseno says. “If that person qualifies for financial hardship, you know prior to the date of service, so your collections staff is not going to waste months of collec- tion efforts on this patient.” When your ASC commits the time and resources to work with patients on their financial responsibility pri- or to the date of service, it can be a win–win situation for your patients and your surgery center, Sackos says. “Patients will appreciate you taking the time to educate them and work- ing with them in advance of their procedure, and your ASC is more likely to collect what it is owed.”

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