With Higher Deductibles, Physicians Must Collect Bills in Office, Reports Practice Management Expert Zupko

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With patients facing higher deductibles in 2014, physicians must collect bills in their office or face rapidly increasing receivables, reports Karen Zupko, a nationally known practice management expert.

With online tools like CoverageCalculator.com, patients and physicians can quickly determine out-of-pocket costs.

In 2014, many patients are facing higher insurance deductibles and physician offices must collect the bills in their office or face rapidly increasing receivables, according to Karen Zupko, a nationally recognized practice management consultant.

"With patients' out-of-pocket medical costs soaring, simply sending out a statement 30 days after the surgery is no longer a viable option. Once a patient's balance goes beyond 90 days, it is almost impossible to collect it. The vast majority of patients are willing and able to pay their bill in the office prior to treatment, if you explain it to them," said Zupko, president of Karen Zupko & Associates.

Zupko, whose company leads coding workshops for the American College of Surgeons and other associations, said that new online cost calculators and payment tools now make point-of-service collections a cost-effective option for small medical groups. She described the new tools in a recent newsletter.

Zupko cited CoverageCalculator.com as free, simple way for patients and practice managers to quickly determine out-of-pocket costs. The website, developed by James Weintrub, MD, a retired physician and technology consultant, instantly computes out-of-pocket cost for any combination of fees, allowables, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and co-insurance.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, deductibles for the 3 million health insurance plans purchased through Healthcare.gov average fully $3,000, and those for bronze plans average $5,082.

Determining out-of-pocket costs in advance leads to improved patient satisfaction by eliminating unexpected medical bills; and for providers, there's the benefit of immediate payment, said Dr. Weintrub.

As explained on the Coverage Calculator site, the online form requires minimal data entry. Physician offices obtain coverage information from health plans via electronic transactions 270 and 271. Patients can obtain coverage information from Health Plan documents, subscriber portals and mobile applications. The calculator "does the math," giving patients an accurate out-of-pocket cost.

Dr. Weintrub served as Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Providence VA Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Brown University until retirement in 2012.

Karen Zupko & Associates, based in Chicago, serves physician practices and medical organizations nationwide.

Media Contact:
James Harris
Westside Public Relations

James Weintrub, MD
Coverage Calculator, Inc.

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