It’s been an exciting couple of months at Short Hills Ophthalmology.
We have considered, researched, and prepared our new Credit Card on File (CCOF) Policy for over a year, and finally, we brought it to our patients on September 1st. We are pleased to report that our staff and patients have exceeded our expectations for a very smooth transition!
Although this policy may be new for many of our patients, CCOF is not new for many medical offices across the country. It is getting more and more difficult to support our practices in light of declining insurance payments and increased patient deductibles, copays, and coinsurances. Some offices have even gone as far as to stop accepting medical insurance and only accepting cash payments at time of service. Doctors can no longer afford to extend credit to their patients after they receive the determination of the insurance company.
“Doctors can no longer afford to extend credit to patients;
what does that even mean?”
When you see Dr. Farbowitz, a medical claim is generated for your visit and sent to your insurance company. The claim tells the insurance company who you are, what was wrong, and what was done by the physician. Each patient’s insurance policy and benefits can be different from other patients, even from the same insurance company. When the insurance company receives it, they compare it to your insurance policy and benefits and pay or deny the claim. We have no way of knowing what their determination will be when you come in for your visit. Extending credit means that, after the 6-8 weeks it takes the insurance company to respond to your medical claim, we must bill you and again await payment in the amount you were determined to owe. Patients who do not pay their bills and are sent to collections are very costly, but ALL patient billing is costly, even when you do pay your bills on-time. Banks and financing companies extend credit, and charge many fees and oftentimes high interest rates to cover their costs and turn a profit. Doctor’s offices, however, are losing money on this practice every single month of the year.
When a patient sees a doctor, it is the patient’s responsibility to pay for that service, either directly or indirectly. There may be other agreements in play, such as the patient’s insurance company’s agreement to pay for certain medical expenses (benefits), and the doctor’s agreement with the insurance company to accept a certain amount for the medical services as payment-in-full (contracted rates). Those agreements can make it confusing for patients to understand that they are financially responsible for the visit. If doctors are to stay in practice, it’s imperative that we bridge the gap between the day the medical claim is paid by the insurance company and the day the final patient payment is received and the claim is closed. Our CCOF policy ensures that, while remaining sensitive to our patients, we can close claims in a timely and fair fashion after the insurance company determines how much the patient owes.
At Short Hills Ophthalmology, we understand that this may be the first time our patients are asked to leave a credit card on file at a doctor’s office. Our sincere hope is that our patients understand that, in order to continue providing the services and care that you deserve, we have to work smarter. Patients are not being asked to pay more than they have in the past, they are only being asked to ensure that we will receive their portion of the payment without us incurring billing costs (or collection fees) in a timely manner after their insurance makes the determination.
It is also important for patients to remember that this policy is not personal in any way. We cannot favor some patients over others by allowing them not to participate in our CCOF policy. Regardless of your insurance coverage or history of payment, it is discrimination to require some patients and not others to file a credit card. Policies and coverage change on a regular basis, and we do not judge or discriminate between patients on their need to leave a credit card on file. This policy is applied to every patient, and will actually save our patients the time and effort of paying our bill!
Please feel free to contact our practice manager, Joy Saah, with any questions or comments:
- by phone at 973.379.2544 on Tuesdays or Fridays, or
- write to her anytime at JoySHeye@gmail.com.
Please feel free to browse our Credit Card on File Policy documents HERE: