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Episode 21:
Returned Mail

One of the most valuable but under-utilized metrics for urgent care billing is the number of statements returned as “undeliverable” by the post office. Returned mail is a lagging indicator of the accuracy of information entered into the practice management system by the front desk. Having accurate information is essential for timely processing of insurance claims so when there are data entry errors, a failure to validate patient information, or relying on old, outdated patient information…collections can be delayed by 30 to 60 days or longer. While the impact of returned mail can be reduced by paying greater attention to detail at the front desk, many urgent care centers are avoiding the problem altogether by pre-authorizing patient credit cards for any charges rejected by insurance.

Just Checking In: Episode 21 - Returned Mail

Good evening! This is Alan Ayers and I’m Just Checking In from the United States Post Office here in Loves Park, IL to talk to you about the very important billing metric of returned mail.

So return mail is exactly that – it is mail that is undeliverable by the post office either because the recipient’s address is incorrect, there are errors in the address, or the recipient has moved and either didn’t leave a forwarding order or the recipient’s forwarding order has expired. Regardless of the cause, return mail is an important lagging indicator in urgent care because it reflects the accuracy of your front office processes. So if you think about it, most claims/ most visits in urgent care are going to be adjudicated by insurance. Insurance claims require absolute accuracy, but if you’re receiving returned mail on the back end that means you have claims that have not only been rejected for which you’re now sending statements to bill the patient, but those claims were likely rejected because of errors – either data entry errors, errors in validating information say… using real-time eligibility, errors or failure to check patient ID, or the error of relying on information that is in the system such as an old address without asking the patient to verify that it is correct.

Regardless, as a lagging indicator returned mail can be used to teach and instruct the front office as to their common errors and to heighten awareness to make sure that correct information is gathered and entered into the system for every single patient.

Now a solution or remedy to high rates of returned mail is credit card preauthorization. So in most modern society/ most modern business we’re relying on electronic payments, electronic communication – checks & snail mails are really concepts of the past… So the way credit card preauthorization works is very much like checking into a hotel. The patient arrives at the urgent care center – they give their insurance card, their driver’s license, and a credit card. They sign a release that allows the urgent care to charge their credit card up to a certain amount, should there be patient financial responsibility from the insurance claim. Typically, the patient is notified seven days before the charge actually hits in case they want to come in and pay their obligation in person, change the card, or so on and so forth. Credit card preauthorization dramatically reduces the need to send statements which dramatically reduces the impact of returned mail on your collections.

So if you’re looking for more information on credit card preauthorization, if you’re dealing with a problem with high rates of returned mail, or any other questions related to billing – please feel free to contact us at Practice Velocity using the website you see on your screen.

Once again, this is Alan Ayers – Just Checking In.

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