There is no real way to educate patients about every aspect of the medical billing cycle. However, it is possible to make the experience less confusing for the patient.
Explain every line on the invoice. Just having a grand total for services rendered is not clear communication. If the patient went in for an annual physical and had some bloodwork done, each of the billable charges should have a line on the invoice. Tie each line of your detailed list of services back to a billing amount.
Don’t load the invoice down with medical jargon. You can understand medical terminology, but a typical patient cannot. Provide the patient with an initial bill, before the insurance carrier pays, even though it may seem counter-intuitive. This type of communication helps the patient understand what is happening in the medical billing process, instead of being presented with a confusing final bill.
The initial invoice should give an outline of services rendered, the amount expected from the insurance company, and any balance the patient may have to pay. The insurance company will send an explanation of benefits showing what they paid. Then, you can send a final invoice for the amount due, if the patient has not already paid. This progression of information keeps the patient informed on what is happening, which puts them at ease when the balance is due. Use color to communicate with your patients, because it helps guide a person’s eye to key pieces of an invoice.
What happens if an account becomes overdue? Most patients want to pay their bills on time. Don’t be afraid of communicating with a patient about an outstanding balance. You may find the non-payment was a simple oversight or that the patient is waiting on their next paycheck to cover the bill. Of course, there may be instances where the patient is just not willing to pay their bill. These types of bills may have to be sent to collections. However, you can send the bill to collections knowing that you have communicated as clearly as possible with that patient
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