How does a collection agency recover my bad debt?
Collection agencies affect a recovery by “selling” the consumer on the need of paying what is rightfully owed. Collectors know that most consumers are honest and want to pay their debts but there are always extenuating circumstances. Often, once a collector has more information they are adept at guiding consumers around the impediments that prevented payment earlier.
Do you credit report accounts referred to you?
Only if you want us to report your unpaid accounts. This is a decision that you make by authorizing us to report to the three leading credit bureaus in the country.
When do you report accounts to the credit bureaus?
It is our practice to report accounts after they have been with our agency for a minimum of 60-days. In the case of medical debt, reporting can take place after the account is 180-days from the time of service and has been with our office a minimum of 60-days. We also allow our clients to customize the reporting period from 60-days to 90-days. This grace period allows the consumer to pay the account in full, register a dispute, contact their insurance company if applicable, etc.
How long should I pursue collections in my office, before using a collection agency?
That depends on the anticipated source of payment. If you are looking to payment from an insurance company, you should allow the customary time needed for that particular insurance company to process the claim and remit. Insurance companies vary in the time it takes to respond to your claim.

If insurance company X usually pays within 60-days of the claim being filed and the 60-days has elapsed, it is time for some due diligence on your part. This means contacting the claims department and asking why there is a delay in paying a particular patient’s claim. You can easily add another 60-days to this process. If the outlook for payment starts to look remote; send a letter to your patient indicating that the payment may need to be made by them since the insurance company is not cooperating. Remember that Medicaid, Workman’s Compensation, Auto Accident Coverage, etc. may not lend itself to this approach.

Self-Pay debt is an entirely different problem. You have zero guarantees of ever seeing your money when dealing with self-pay debt. The following issues may confront you: The following issues may confront you:

• Transient nature of today’s consumers
• Diminished motivation to pay once treatment has been received
• Loss of income due to illness or economic turbulence

All of these reasons are compounded by the passage of time. The older a debt becomes, the less likely you will be able to collect. In this scenario, send your initial bill immediately, follow-up in 2-weeks with a reminder. Two weeks later, issue your final notice informing the patient that after 10-days the account will be referred to your collection agency for collections. Contrary to popular belief, letters do not collect money! Do not throw good money after bad by racking up staff and postage expenses. Focus on your current accounts so that they will not be as likely to be referred to an agency.
What information should I provide to a collection agency when I refer an account?
Collectibility is directly linked to the age of the debt and the information is provided at the time of referral. The following data is extremely helpful:

• Complete name of the patient or guarantor
• Current home address with Home Phone or Cell number
• Current Employment to include the title of the position held and work phone number
• Social Security Number – Date of Birth
• Spouse’s Name – Employment – Social Security Number – Date of Birth and work phone and cell number
• Emergency contact person and phone number

NOTE: It is vital that you update your information on every visit. On patients that you do not often see, update their information at least once a year.
How expensive is it to use an agency?
It cost nothing! In answering this question, I am assuming that you have written the account off and considered it a complete loss. So, basically, you are sending a collection agency bills, itemizations, letters, patient information sheets, and the occasional bad check. Basically, you are providing a stack of papers, forms, etc. and looking for a return. At this stage, you have lost all that you can lose on these accounts. The collection agency will charge you a contingent fee for standard collections. Meaning that the contingent fee is only charged on revenue recovered. The amount of the fee is determined by the age of the accounts, the average balance owed, the average number of accounts to be placed on a monthly basis and often the collectability of your accounts. Remember that a percentage of something has way more value than 100% of nothing. Doing business with ACEI is a smart move! If you have any questions regarding our services, please call us at 703.719.9403 for more information.