Accounts receivable and debt collection can be relatively difficult to manage in the medical field, as hospitals have long struggled to create a strong workflow that covers the demands of each task in a sensitive and respectful way. When these matters are not properly tended to in a proactive fashion, patient satisfaction, operational efficiency and financial stability can all begin to fall by the wayside.
Now, there have been other recent reports that indicate matters might get even worse for hospitals and other medical practices with respect to debt collection woes and accounts receivable deficiencies. Let's take a look at these stories, then at how accounting departments in health care facilities can tackle them in a timely fashion.
Everyone knows that the U.S. government is currently steadfast in its resolve to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but no one knows what will arise in its absence. CNN Money recently reported that, regardless of the broader impacts of the repeal, if one rule known as the "extraordinary collection actions" clause is eradicated, it could mean that hospitals see an even higher prevalence of delinquency and demands for professional collection activities.
This is just from the perspective of reporting and the implications of a change to Obamacare's relevant policies, and other changes could come with an even greater financial impact.
So, considering the fact that Congress and the President are in tune with respect to repealing and replacing Obamacare, hospitals will need to keep a close eye on the financial impacts of such a move. Additionally, beginning to plan for rising debt is not a bad idea, as problems with medical payments have been among the biggest stories in the economy for years now.
Already a major problem
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that medical bills were the most frequent reason why consumers heard from collection agencies in 2016, with 59 percent of consumers contacted citing this as the cause. According to the CFPB report, the total rate of the population that received a call from a debt collector hit 32 percent, and 72 percent of those were contacted in reference to two or more outstanding debts.
A separate report from a couple of years ago from the CFPB estimated that about 43 million Americans had medical debt, with the average sum being $1,766, and these figures have only continued to worsen as the years progressed.
Now, there are plenty of instances of patients who simply cannot foot the bill, but even when it comes to these individuals, there is always a better idea to handle the accounts receivable and collections process in the medical field.
Hospitals and other care facilities should consider the benefits of outsourcing the AR and collections processes to a professional management firm that specializes in such activities. This can improve the ebb and flow of payments and bolster patient satisfaction all in one fell swoop.