Once the written request is received, we will pay within 30 days (PCC.com, no date). If you paid by credit card, we will issue the refund to your card directly. If you paid cash, we will issue you a check.
This policy is ideal for a small generalist office.
The policy should outline the Medical Associates position clearly, so that the patient has an understanding of how billing and collections work from our end. This is important because of medical offices are somewhat unique in this regard compared to other businesses. The multiple means of payment, often for a single bill, necessitate this written explanation for the patient.
The main objective of the financial policy is to effectively communicate the means and methods of payment to the patients. Not only should it clarify the role of the office, but it should also clarify for the patient their role as well (PCC.com, no date) the financial policy I have developed is broken down into different sections by payment type. Some financial policies I have encountered are broken down by payment timing (i.e. For Expenses Due Immediately, etc.). I felt that this method made sense from the office's point-of-view, but not from the patient's. Patients tend to view themselves in terms of being insured, Medicare or uninsured. Thus, by breaking down the financial policy by payment type I feel the policy becomes easier to understand from the patient's perspective.
The financial policy uses clear verbiage. It is important that the language be unequivocal, because one of the objectives of a financial policy is to outline for the patient precisely what their role is. There should be no ambiguity. Thus, I have imbued the policy with clear language. When the terms are strict, that is outlined clearly.
The financial policy also benefits the staff as well. It provides them with a clear framework for dealing with patients, particularly those who would claim ignorance of the office's policies. Thus, the financial policy specifies clearly the means for payment, the time frames for payment, the responsibilities of insured patients if the insurance companies denies payment, and when the outstanding balance will be sent to a collections agency. With these items stated clearly in the financial policy, the staff can then feel confident when explaining policy to patients, particularly those who are filing a complaint, or who appear to be in violation of some of the terms set out in the financial policy.
Lastly, by outlining the policy clearly, it saves time. Front desk staff are busy. The complexity of payments structures in the medical office environment demands that policies are laid out in writing, but this also saves the staff from having to explain ad nauseum the finer points of the policy.
This also reduces the risk to the office, because it allows patients to understand before being admitted, the expectations that the clinic has of them. This may dissuade patients from seeking services for which they cannot pay, lowering the risk to the office.
Overall, the differences between financial policies for most medical offices are superficial. They all contain the same basic information. We have imbued ours with a sense of fairness and attention to the needs of the customer that we feel will allow the patient to feel good about dealing with Medical Associates Inc. We also feel that we have reduced our risk by clearly and succinctly outlining our terms and our role in the billing and collections process. This balanced presentation, we feel, is the best approach to a financial policy.
Valerius, Bayes, Newby & Seggern. (2008) Medical Insurance: An Integrated Claims Process Approach. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2008.
Website: MedicalCodingandBilling.com. Various pages. Retrieved February 20, 2009 at http://www.medicalcodingandbilling.com/pract_management.htm
No author. (no date). Writing a Financial Policy. Physician's Computer Company. Retrieved February 20, 2009 at http://www.pcc.com/practmgmt/business/finpol.php
No author. (no date). Financial Policy. Napa Valley Orthopaedic. Retrieved February 20, 2009 at http://napavalleyortho.com/financial_policy.html
Snyder, Herbert. (2006). Minimizing the Risks of Financial Fraud. Medscape. Retrieved February 20, 2009 at http://medgenmed.medscape.com/viewarticle/524044_print