The global Covid-19 pandemic has gone far beyond thousands of infections and deaths, it’s resulted in the closure of businesses and job losses on a scale that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. in recent history. Unfortunately, job losses that have come as a result of Covid-19 have resulted in many individuals losing benefits, including their health insurance.
Treating uninsured patients always presents challenges for medical practices, but the sudden increase in the number of uninsured individuals creates additional difficulties for physicians who may already be struggling financially as a result of the pandemic.
Here’s a closer look at the serious crisis facing the country as the number of uninsured individuals skyrockets, and some strategies your practice can put in place to protect your bottom line.
Urban Institute Predicts 31.5 Million Americans Uninsured by the End of 2020
The current situation is extreme; Urban Institute predicts that 31.5 million Americans will be uninsured by the end of the year, an increase of 10%. By the end of the year, it’s estimated that the non-elderly U.S. population will represent around 11.4% of the uninsured.
In states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility as a part of the Affordable Care Act, some of these newly uninsured may be able to get Medicaid coverage. However, not all states chose the Medicaid expansion, and some patients will continue to be uninsured.
In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, it’s estimated that 55% of those losing their employer-sponsored healthcare coverage due to pandemic-related job losses will become uninsured by the end of 2020. In comparison, just 34% of those losing their employer-sponsored health benefits are predicted to become uninsured in Medicaid expansion states.
Protecting Your Bottom Line – Helpful Strategies
While practices and hospitals want to take measures to help the uninsured, protecting your bottom line is also critical during these unprecedented times. Many practices already find themselves struggling financially as a result of the pandemic and the fast changes in the way medical care is delivered. The following strategies can enable your practice to provide quality care to those losing their insurance coverage without losing revenue you desperately need right now.
Strategy #1 – Always Verify Patient Information
The first step to protecting your bottom line and preserving practice revenue is to always verify patient information before treatment is provided. With millions of people losing their jobs and their insurance coverage, there’s a good chance that your patients’ insurance situation may have changed since you last saw them. Verify the insurance before they’re treated to find out if their insurance has changed or if they’ve lost their insurance. You don’t want to find out they’re uninsured when you bill the insurance company you previously had on file.
Strategy #2 – Explain Patient Responsibility and Offer Price Transparency
Explaining patient responsibility, offering price transparency, and requesting payment up front are all measures that can help ensure you collect from uninsured patients who visit your practice. Many patients aren’t fully aware of the financially responsibilities they have before they visit, particularly if they’ve just lost insurance or they’ve had to make the transfer from an employer-sponsored plan to a Medicaid plan.
Train your front-end staff to ensure patients are educated when they visit on what they’ll owe. Staff should also work to collect up front or come up with a payment plan for the patient while they’re still in the office. Price transparency in the beginning and working with the patients to give them payment plans for larger medical bills increase your odds of collecting.
Strategy #3 – Offer Electronic Payment Options
Offering patients electronic payment options also helps increase the likelihood that you’ll collect more patient revenue. Implementing the ability to login to online portals to pay bills conveniently from home empowers patients to take responsibility for healthcare costs. Patients today expect practices to offer electronic payment methods.
Make paying easier for patients by ensuring patients can pay by credit card, filing credit card information in the payment system for faster payments, and sending out electronic bills. You may even want to consider offering mobile payment options like Android Pay or Apple pay. As patients face the continuing threat of Covid-19 right now, contactless payment options have become even more popular.
Strategy #4 – File Claims for Covid-19 Testing and Related Services for the Uninsured
The department of Health and Human Services has promised that they will pay for Covid-19 testing and related services for patients who are uninsured. If you’ve treated uninsured patients for Covid-19, be sure to go through the claims process so you can be reimbursed. As of May 6, those claims can be filed electronically, and they’ll be reimbursed at Medicare rates. Services delivered on or after February 4, 2020 will be covered. Keep in mind, you’ll need to attest that you’ve checked to make sure the patient is truly uninsured and not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or work.
The past few months have brought so many changes for medical practices, from the sudden need to offer telehealth services in new ways to dealing with a larger segment of uninsured patients. Keeping your practice financially healthy is critical, and we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking for assistance navigating new Covid-19 coding changes or you’re looking for a cost-effective way to streamline billing and coding to boost your bottom line, M-Scribe Medical Billing is here to help. Contact M-Scribe.com today at 770-666-0470 for more information on how we can work together to boost practice revenue during challenging times.