A usually good-natured doctor noted he was missing his “Ho-Ho-Ho” this past holiday season. He manages his practice wisely, plans carefully, and watches expenses. Still he can’t help but feel pessimistic about the future of healthcare. At stake: the quality of care he can afford to deliver and the overall health of his practice. He’s not alone. Patients and providers everywhere are uneasy.

Exit the exchange chaos, higher deductibles (a.k.a. ‘getting-paid-will-take-you-longer-now’), CCI edits, ICD-10, and Meaningful Use Stage 2 – and there’s more burdensome red tape in the waiting. And as Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules and regulations roll out, we’re learning reimbursements are going down. The only thing not going down is the price of practicing medicine. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), for example, upped registration fees for doctors 33 percent to $731. It is hard to budget for this level of uncertainty, let alone manage cash flow and make money.

Dr. Christine Weikert, State College, PA, recently spoke at the Colorado Foot & Ankle Society conference. She focused on ICD-10 and other critical issues facing providers. According to Dr. Weikert, conventional wisdom is that doctors will need 3 to 4 months of extra cash on hand to weather the 2014 storm. Yes, that’s right, and that’s a lot of money. We later spoke with a podiatrist from Wyoming who echoed this warning and had taken preventative measures – he met with his banker and increased his practice’s credit line to cover the expected dip in revenue.

 

We can’t change laws or influence insurers easily, but as medical reimbursement specialists, we can point out practical steps to ease your 2014 fiscal pain:

#1: Watch those unpaid claims. Get issues resolved promptly.
#2: Increase collection efforts. Make sure patients sign your financial policy, and that unpaid balances are assessed monthly rebilling fees and collection agency charges.
#3: Execute an encrypted Credit Card on File (CCOF) payment program. Start collecting your money upfront. Click here to visit our resources page for assistance on how to get started.

Tip #4? Get a handle on your cash flow. Start by contacting us today.

Good luck in 2014 – we’re going to need it!