Is It Time for a Policy on Patient Insurance and Financial Responsibility?

It's important for NDs to have an established a practice policy that addresses the patient's financial and insurance responsibilities. This helps create consistency and avoid surprises for the patient.

Because a patient’s healthcare coverage may change, share your financial responsibility policy with the patient each year. Provide a copy of the policy to the patient and place one in the chart. If a patient refuses the copy, document that in the chart. You should include your financial responsibility policy in your new patient packet and document that the patient received it.

When creating your policy, keep in mind that you want your patients to continue to seek healthcare treatment from you. Remind them that you appreciate them choosing your practice, and you are committed to their care. You don’t want them to avoid treatment for financial reasons—especially if the care is critical—or switch to another provider.

Consider including the following in your financial responsibility policy:

  • The fact that it is in the patient’s best interest to understand their insurance plan benefits, and it’s their responsibility to pay for deductibles, coinsurance and copays. Questions regarding their coverage should be directed to their healthcare plan.
  • Patients should verify with their healthcare providers whether your practice is a participating provider in their plan. They may incur more financial responsibility with “out-of-network providers.”
  • When payments are due—usually the date of service, unless prior arrangements are made.
  • When copayments and deductibles are due—usually at the time of the visit.
  • Confirmation that insurance quotes, copays, deductibles and coinsurance may be estimates only.
  • What types of payment are accepted at your practice:
    • Credit cards (which ones), including Flexible Spending Credit Cards
    • Debit cards
    • Checks (perhaps for established patients only) and any cost for returned checks
    • Cash
    • Medicare/Medicaid
  • Who is responsible for payment of fees
  • What information you will need annually and at each visit, e.g., their current insurance card and a photo ID.
  • What financial assistance you can offer the patient, such as Care Credit and reduced fees for self-pay.
  • Your policy on collections, including when accounts might be turned over to collections and what additional costs might be incurred, such as interest, handling and legal fees).
  • The charge, if any, for missed appointments.

Here are some things to consider with financial responsibility policies, as well as a sample policy from AAFP.

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