March 27, 2009

Fee collection test well received by patients

A test of point-of-service fee collection in the Gastroenterology Lab and Ophthalmology has been well received by patients, according to Bryon Pickard, director of operations with the Vanderbilt Medical Group Business Office.

“Our initiative is in line with a national trend toward giving patients better information about out-of-pocket costs. And the feedback from our patients has been overwhelmingly positive,” Pickard said.

Prior to service, insurers are now able not only to verify patient eligibility, but also to verify benefits, including the amount of any co-insurance or unmet deductible.

Prior to the clinic visit, with a letter and a phone call from a Vanderbilt financial counselor, patients with insurance are informed as to their benefit levels and the portion of the cost for which they will be liable.

Pilot areas are collecting patient deductibles and co-insurance along with the co-payment at the point of service.

“While we do anticipate a reduction in bad debt, this is really a customer service initiative,” Pickard said.

During the six months ending last December, the GI Lab collected $290,000 in physician and hospital fees upfront. On Feb. 2, Orthopaedics will become the next clinic to offer point-of-service fee collection.