How to Catch Up on Past Due Accounts Receivables

Your practice can lose sight of past due accounts receivables during periods of staff transition, practice growth, and/or ineffective account follow through. When the problem is finally identified, past due accounts have typically ballooned into a substantial issue, and the sight of an accounts receivable report that goes on for page after page creates another problem: where to start?

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When your team faces a sizable cleanup of past due accounts, the first place to start is with outstanding insurance claims. Since many insurance companies have a time limit for considering claims, put your initial attention on clearing up all outstanding claims older than 90 days.

Next, research the reasons why patients still have outstanding balances. Have patients received regular statements? If patients have not received regular statements, the team will want to include a short narrative regarding the reason(s) for the balance. Consider how you would feel if you suddenly received a bill many months after going to the dentist and you had no idea why a balance was due. Providing a narrative will save on the number of calls and complaints the team will receive.

If a patient has been non-responsive to statements, meet with the dentist to review appropriate next steps that may include offering a payment plan to help the patient, providing a discount if the past due balance is paid in full, and/or informing the patient that a collection agency will receive the account if certain conditions are not met.


Finally, assess the conditions that led to so many past due accounts and correct the systems immediately. Make sure patients always receive a financial estimate prior to scheduling treatment, and make sure that patients not only sign the financial estimate, but they also indicate how they plan to pay (cash, check, credit card, in-house or third party financing). Closely review systems for managing insurance claims and outstanding accounts—both of which must be reviewed and worked throughout the month.

By taking additional steps to address past due accounts, you will reduce future headaches and improve cash flow.

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