How to Keep Cash Payments From Tripping Up Your Practice

September 18, 2018 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

Accepting cash payments is one way practices can broaden their revenue beyond traditional fee-for-service. For our readers in integrative health fields – such as acupuncture, massage therapy or chiropractic practice – accepting cash payments is typically a necessity (like it or not) given the challenges of insurer plans.

Still, cash-pay acceptance can create a unique set of issues for practices to deal with. And that’s true whether the need is motivated by an “actual cash” problem (that is, a need to accept full payment from patients who do not have health insurance) or an “effective cash” problem (in which insurance doesn’t cover desired services, or deductibles have yet to be met).

A few best practices can help providers handle both kinds of cash-pay concerns with confidence.


Create ‘Coverage Intelligence’

Which of your procedures are commonly covered by which payers? Which aren’t? Your staff – and by extension, your patients – should know the answers.

Especially for integrative or holistic billing, providers should have a strong, referenceable understanding of which services face eligibility struggles, and with which insurers. That may sound complicated, but the insights come from 1.) conducting verifications as much as possible, and 2.) deploying robust efforts around monitoring, interpreting, and tracking claim denials and reasons.

A medical billing service can help you gain that intelligence, and use it to provide clear coverage expectations to patients every time you suggest a service.


Make Cash-Pay Price Info Available

Transparency always helps. Even if they’re expecting or hoping for services to be covered, patients appreciate knowing how much they’d need to pay at sticker price for your top services.

Why? Because the information can help them guide decisions on what’s worth it, and what isn’t. When it comes to elective procedures, patients deserve to have that information up front (before they get attached to the idea of something they won’t be able to afford).

The extra clarity can also help your practice avoid plugging time and money toward a recommended course of action that could ultimately be abandoned due to cost.


Test Smart Approaches That Get Your Paid

If you don’t have time to check eligibility on a service that you’re unsure will be covered, what should do you do?

Every practice has to make its own choices there. If yours is one to go for it, certain strategies can ensure you’re paid on at least part of the procedure costs.

Taking deposits on lower cost services is a smart approach: By getting a refundable 25% to %50 of a $250-or-less procedure up front, practices can take action with at least some revenue secured.

Once they get an answer from the insurer, they can either give back the patient’s deposit or bill for the rest as expected. And since the patient knew the coverage risk up front, the odds they’ll pay on the invoice are higher than in a surprise-bill scenario.


...and if you need help from a medical billing company...



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