Up Front Collections: Every Little Bit Adds Up

Collecting co-pays from patients can make you feel proud, like you are doing worthwhile work for your organization.  Sitting down with your supervisor and saying “I collected $300 today in co-pays” shows that you are an asset to the company.  Any time the cash is in hand instead of owed is a win for the company.  Sometimes, though, collecting small co-pays seems like it’s not worth your time.  “I’m going to go for the big ones and not waste my time with the small ones,” you may think.  “Ten dollar co-pays aren’t worth my effort.”

Here’s why small co-pays are worth your effort.

A co-pay is something that the patient owes for their visit.  It is an established dollar amount and doesn’t change from visit to visit depending on severity of service.  The patient owes a flat fee and the insurance company is going to hold the patient responsible for their part.

If a patient does not pay the co-pay at time of service, there is a cost involved on our end to send that patient a billing statement.  Sending a statement does cost time to pay the employees involved.  There are costs involved for material for the statement, return envelope, outgoing envelope, and postage.  Currently in my organization, it costs approximately $5 to send a billing statement.

Often, we have to send more than one statement for a patient’s co-pay.  At $5 per billing statement, you can see how quickly it adds up.  For a $5 co-pay, you’re not making any money if you have to bill for it.  For a $10 co-pay, you’re not making any money if you have to send more than one statement.  For higher co-pays, you’re still losing $5 every time you send out a bill for the co-pay.

While collecting higher co-pays will help you to stand out like a star, it is important to focus on collecting lower co-pays.  1) The patient is more likely to have the lower amount of money on them, if they’re not just paying by check or credit/debit.  2) Getting in the habit of collecting lower co-pays will make it smoother for you when you need to ask for higher co-pays.  3)  The little co-pays will add up throughout the day and the week, and higher co-pays are sure to join it since you’re asking, allowing you to remain, as before, the collecting star.

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