Ask an Expert: Thoughts on Collecting Payments... and Trimming the Fat

As insurance coverage shifts, deductibles are climbing. Practices must be vigilant about collecting payments and willing to accommodate patients’ “financial schedules.”

By Joel Schlessinger, MD
 

Do you collect all copays and deductibles upfront from patients?
Yes, in general, that is what we do in our office. While we haven't done this in the past, the new reality is that many patients who have insurance unfortunately carry astronomical deductibles. These deductibles can range from $1,000 to $5,000 (or even more), rendering their insurance essentially useless. Capturing the payment upfront avoids lengthy collections efforts or non-payment.

We try to spot insurances that are highdeductible and offer to find out their responsibility prior to any procedures. We have found that many patients appreciate this and the opportunity to choose an economically ideal time to undergo the procedure should their bill be high due to the nature of the visit. We have had a few patients who are unhappy, but it may be that they would have been unhappy whenever they had to pay the bill!

Are there any benefits of SmartLipo (Cynosure) over regular tumescent liposuction?
While I purchased my SmartLipo laser about two years ago, I have rarely gone back to the older method of tumescent liposuction since that time. Still, this is yet another case that shows the benefit of providing patients with options.

Recently I had a patient who simply didn't want to do the laser method and I instead performed the nonlaser method solely for this procedure. What I can tell you is that she definitely had more bruising and my arms got much more of a workout with this traditional procedure than with the laser-assisted liposuction. It was truly an eye-opening experience. Whether these benefits justify the significant expenditures for this laser is a question to be decided by the individual physician based on preference, skill, patient demand, and practice characteristics.

Send your questions to tpigeon@bmctoday.com. Dr. Schlessinger will answer your query or find an expert who can.

 

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About Practical Dermatology

Practical Dermatology is the monthly publication that provides coverage of medical care, cosmetic advancements, and practice management for clinicians in the field. With straight-forward, how-to advice from experts in various fields, we strive to enhance quality of care and improve the daily operation of dermatology practices.