Medical debt is one of the most talked-about financial topics in society today. As health insurance rates continue to rise and medical bills place more of a strain on working Americans, doctors have had to confront this issue more often. They are the face of healthcare that patients most often actually deal with, and consequently, they are often the people who face the brunt of their patient’s displeasure.
Massachusetts is no exception to this rule. Residents of the state are struggling just like everyone else in the country to keep up with payments on their health insurance, and when an unexpected expense comes up, they struggle to make ends meet and pay off the debt. However, there are some new laws and regulations that have been put in place to help manage the Massachusetts medical collection.
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Healthcare in Massachusetts
According to this study, Massachusetts actually has one of the highest healthcare costs in the country, but it actually has one of the lowest average premium costs in the country. The average Massachusetts resident paid a monthly premium of around $385 per month, compared to the national average which is $600 per month. This has to do with the broad enrollment in healthcare that keeps premiums low and a tiered system that offers a variety of price points for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Medical Collection in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts debt collection laws and rules are meant to protect the rights of those who are in debt. These rules dictate limitations on the number of times a creditor can contact you, how they have to identify themselves on the call, and several other rules of conduct. They are not allowed to curse, threaten legal action, or call you after a reasonable hour. In summary, these rules specify that anyone trying to collect on a medical debt in the state of Massachusetts is expected to behave with respect towards the person they are attempting to collect money from.
What Doctors Can Do About Medical Collection in Massachusetts
In spite of the low premiums and debt collection rules, there are always going to be those who struggle to pay their medical bills. However, there are a few ways that doctors can take action to help their patients pay down their debt and reduce the amount of medical debt.
- Explain the bills to patients. In the event that a patient calls with a question about their bill, there should be a person in the office who can explain the bill to the patient, point by point, to avoid confusion.
- Train your staff on how to discuss the debt with patients. Your front desk staff are the people who have the most direct line to patient billing as the people who are checking them in and viewing their accounts. There are some ways they can encourage people to make payments as they check them in. For instance, they might ask “You have an outstanding balance on your account, would you like to pay with credit or check?”, as opposed to “Would you like to pay your outstanding balance today?”.
- Be polite but firm. You can and should be respectful of your patients, but a firm message about repaying outstanding fees is a good way to keep people aware that the medical debt is not going away and needs to be addressed, perhaps even through a payment plan.
Regardless of their financial situation, every patient deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. The subject of medical collection is difficult to address with patients, but as long as you prioritize patient care and offer as much help as you can, your patients will continue to trust and rely on you.