Newspoll: Providers reconsidering credit card policy

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Friday, June 15, 2018

YARMOUTH, Maine – Fewer than half (36%) of providers say they keep a credit card on file for customers but that may be changing, say respondents to a recent HME Newspoll.

“A Plus Medical Equipment has not pursued credit cards on file in the past,” said Jerry Roberts in Cape Girardeau, Mo. “Given the number of patients with past due balances, this is under review.”

In fact, 60% of the total amount owed by patients is never collected, and 30% of all patients have a past due balance of 60 or more days, according to Brightree.

Many respondents cited security as their reason not keep the information on file.

“It’s for the customer’s safety that we do not keep them on file,” said Rachel Ward, AlternaCare Home Medical in Great Bend, Kan. “If a customer wants to call in a number over the phone, we will do a payment that way and then we shred that information.”

Others fear losing customers.

“We have actually had several patients transfer from other suppliers to us as a result of other suppliers implementing this policy,” said one poll respondent. “It’s one of the only things holding me back from trying to implement it myself.”

It’s a chance some are willing to take, says one respondent who has just begun requiring credit card information for all patients without secondary insurance coverage.

“It has really gone smoother than expected,” said Lori Valentine, of Memorial Medical Equipment in Springfield, Mo. “A handful of customers leave, but are not sure if they are changing providers yet.”

It’s important to have policies in place, she added.

“There is a release that is signed by the customer and kept on file,” she said. “The policy does include a service fee of $35 if their card is denied. Once they provide a new payment form, the fee is revoked.”

With some patient groups, requiring credit information is a necessity.

“I try to get them on CPAP clients,” said one respondent. “They’re the worst to pay the ongoing bills. You could take a rocket scientist and explain what the deductible is and they call with the first bill and ask why the insurance did not pay.”

No need to split hairs, says one provider.

“Policy: no card, no service,” said Woody O’Neal, in Birmingham, Ala.