Patience with Patients: How long should you wait for payments?

Managing account receivable for your practice is a time consuming task!

One of the hardest parts about having your own practice, is when you take care of a patients needs, they thank you, leave, and time ticks away while their bill stays put. When you are a doctor, paying the rent or your staff doesn’t wait, so how long should you wait before sending the bill to collections?

While it is typical for a practice to wait up to 4 whole months before sending their bill to collections, it is commonly argued that a bill should go to collections as early as 2 months without payment. This is because the longer that you wait for the bill to be paid, the less likely it is that you will ever see that money at all. The best odds for getting paid by your patient is to try to get the payment as early as possible.

It should also be noted that there is more that goes into bill collecting than just the bill itself. The average price for practices to send paper states is 2.41 cents per patient, which may not seem like much, but can build up over time. It is believed that each practice pays up about 5,000$ dollars per month on patients that are 60–90 days delinquent in their payments. That is money that could otherwise be used for growing your practice.

So then you not only have to hope for payment for the work that you already did, but you have to spend extra money just to try to retrieve that payment. While sending your bill over to a collection agency won’t net you the full profit of the delinquent payment, any amount that you can get from patients who are refusing to pay, the better.

Evidence suggests that at 90 days wait, your bill has an almost 90% chance of being recovered, but after that, it drops dramatically. Just 4 months of not paying, the bill only has an almost 30% chance of being paid. So it seems like the best time to send your bill to collections will be anywhere from 60 to 90 days past due, this will increase your likelihood of having the bill paid at all.

For and on behalf of United Medical Recovery