With a quick search, you will find tons of information online about patient accounts receivable (AR), medical billing, and unpaid medical debt as it pertains to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and all other manner of specialty and medical facility. What you won’t find is a lot of information about patient AR and medical testing laboratories. However, medical testing labs face AR problems with clients as well and this can be just as big an issue for labs as it is for hospitals and medical offices.
What kind of problems are these?
In the medical laboratory field, some tests are fully covered by a patient’s private insurance or the Laboratory Fee Schedule through Medicare. Others are either fully or partially covered by insurance or Medicare Part B while some are not covered at all and have to be paid by patients out of pocket. And, just like in other areas of the healthcare system, there can be uninsured individuals too that labs run testing for. When a patient has a bill that is not covered by insurance or Medicare, it is the patient’s responsibility to pay and, unfortunately, there is a certain parentage of patients who will not pay on time, or at all.
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What causes these debts?
Many factors can cause these debts from the patient’s end but there are a few specific things about medical testing lab bills specifically that make them difficult. First, lab tests are billed with the use of very specific codes that can be confusing or difficult to understand for the patient. Also, adding to this confusion is the fact that many labs are completely separate from the referring doctor so the patient may not recognize the name. This makes them more likely to challenge the charge and less likely to pay.
The second issue that arises with medical testing lab’s billing is that many lab requests are sent over without the patient’s social security number and sometimes even contact info attached. This can make it difficult to locate the patient or even find the right patient with that name to attach the bill to.
What can labs do about it?
The best way for medical testing laboratories to deal with patient AR problems is to hand the accounts over to the professionals and hire a laboratory collection agency. A collection agency that has the experience and expertise working with labs to recover unpaid patient debt will be invaluable to labs and allow them to recover more of the AR, in a much faster time.
Laboratory collection agencies will be familiar with the specific billing codes that laboratories use and be able to explain that to the patient. They also offer things like skip tracing as part of their service. Skip tracing is tracking down the correct person that owes a debt when there is invalid or incomplete contact information.
Also, while a laboratory’s billing department may be very familiar with all the rules and regulations around medical billing, they will not be as experienced with best practices around ethical debt collection. A laboratory debt collection agency will be equally familiar with all the HIPAA compliance regulation that is required in these situations as they are with complying to debt collection practices such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
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Patient AR and billing solutions in the medical testing laboratory field is an under-covered topic. This is even though it can be just as big of a problem in this field as any field in the medical profession. It can cause the same issues and hurt the long-term financial health of a lab if not dealt with appropriately. A laboratory collection agency will help you collect on old AR accounts for clinical billing, DNA billing, pathology billing, toxicology billing, and molecular testing lab billing. That is why hiring a laboratory billing collection agency is the right thing to do.