Many health benefit plans operate on a calendar year cycle, meaning that January 1 is the start of a new plan year with new deductible and out-of-pocket expenses due from the patient or other responsible party. Often, practices find that income is lowest for the first quarter of the year because of the time elapsed from receiving notice that the allowed amount has been applied to a deductible or coinsurance amount, billing of a statement (eg, often multiple statements), and receipt of payment. This can be bad news for the physician practice when cash flow is negatively affected by delayed payments. While it may seem difficult to verify benefits and collect out-of-pocket costs at each encounter, the following tips may reduce the effect of the new plan year and follow-up of long-term patient balances.

A focus on benefit verification and collection processes may deter disruptions to cash flow while providing...

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