Medical Debt Collection Management Tips for Doctors and Healthcare Providers

Raiding Gambling Winnings? States Create Windfall Databases for Debt

Many health care providers are taking a look at a relatively new change in state law that makes sure jackpot winner casino and racetrack gamblers are paying their debts. Iowa is one of a handful of states making sure that those who win $ 1,200.00 or more do the right thing and pay creditors. Whether it’s for child support payments, traffic tickets or several other kinds of liabilities, states are checking winners against a debt database and flagging any accounts that come up as debtors. Other states utilizing this debt collection method include Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia and New Jersey.

Medical Debt in the Health Care Industry

This method, enabled by ever more powerful technologies for data mining, may be a resource for struggling doctors and hospitals that simply don’t get revenue for services provided. Many medical businesses are not raking in a high percentage of the amounts that are billed to patients. This “pay gap” for physician practices and health care facilities is happening for many reasons: even in today’s climate, many health care billing offices still follow the old model of billing insurance first then the patient. Some of the problem also revolves around contractual services and how many insurance providers a medical office has to keep track of in addition to staffing challenges.

The Results: More Avenues for Debt Collections

At first glance, the recent changes in many states seem more centered on retaining government revenue than helping private businesses collect debt. However, that may change as the debt database tools set up to collect on state or social service bills become resources for medical providers that need to recover money from non-paying patients. This is particularly likely for any care facilities that are state-supported or somehow connected to a state government or state entitlement programs.

Collections for Medical Businesses

The idea that state governments will monitor consumer debt, even debt related to state government, helps doctors and hospitals with the ‘patient-centered’ aspect of collections. Many patients, frustrated with billing complexities, or just unable to pay, default on their medical bills, leaving the provider with even less revenue. By linking debt to windfalls like gambling winnings, states are helping businesses or other parties to legitimately collect what is owed them. This has the potential to benefit a medical provider, but there’s also a greater issue that doctors need to solve.

Beyond seeking outside help with collections, doctors need to realize that, in many cases, they already have the means to collect more from those who receive services. The best performing offices are proactive in collections and engage with a consultative approach – consistently. They talk to patients before services are rendered, before bills get sent to a third-party collector and may even negotiate payment, to get more revenue quickly. Think about how your office is closing down on its revenue gap and make sure you’re poised for success in 2012 and beyond.