Be on top of the form to avoid fee shortfall
If more private consultants used a patient registration form, they would have fewer fee problems, says Garry Chapman
Where possible, we recommend that a practice has a set of words which describe how the transaction between the patient and the practice will work in relation to its pricing and the payment of any treatment provided.
This wording can either be on the headed paper of the practice or it can be emailed to new patients when they book an initial consultation. The important thing is that, to avoid any ambiguity, the patient is made aware of the information before treatment commences.
The small print
In our experience, when a patient has private health insurance, many of them immediately think that all the costs of the treatment are covered, when, in reality, there is a cost element that the patient has to pay in most cases.
The vast majority of patients have health insurance through their companies, so most of them are unaware of the small print of their own policies, which typically leave them with a shortfall.
This can be for many reasons and I list the main ones below:
- They could have an excess on the insurance policy for the first part of the treatment;
- They could have exceeded the benefit limit of the policy;
- They could have a policy which is called co-share, where they have to pay a percentage of each invoice.
The patient registration form should also inform the patient if the practice has any other commercial terms, such as charging for consultations that patients do not attend where they have not been cancelled in advance or cancelled at the last minute. These, of course, are often referred to as DNAs (Did Not Attends).
But another area which often needs clarity is if the practice charges for items that are typically not covered by the insurance companies.
This can be items such as writing prescriptions or performing phone consultations. All of the above need to be incorporated into a patient registration form, as well as any other commercial considerations particular to the specific practice – such as charging for domiciliary visits.
If you have a website, I would also encourage you to have the wording published on it as well. I have given an example of a form on the right. Feel free to use it as a template.
Garry Chapman is managing director at Medical Billing and Collection
- 01494 763 999
- Medical Billing & Collection
Buckinghamshire HP7 9LP
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