Study: Better records could boost self-pay collections

Struggling to manage your bad debt load? You're not alone--but some of the pain may not be necessary. According to a new study, a good percentage of the self-pay accounts hospitals write off could probably have been collected upon if hospitals tightened their financial screening procedures. The study, which was done by Nashville, TN-based vendor nTelagent, analyzed receivables between 90 and 180 days old from January 2007 to January 2008. They drew the records from 40 providers, some of which were existing clients.

Researchers found that 30 percent of the self-pay accounts were written off as bad debt because patient's incomes and net worths weren't obtained or verified. However, when nTelagent did the research, it found that more than 16 percent of the patients being studied could be classified as having high income and/or high net worth, while another 33 percent had moderate household income or net worth. nTelagent suggests that all of these accounts could have been re-billed or outsourced to collections. Meanwhile, another 17 percent of written-off accounts might have qualified for government assistance or charity care programs, the vendor reported.

To learn more about the study:
- read this InsideARM piece

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