Many people think that debt collection is a pretty straightforward process. However, we know that there are certain industries that require different methods. Some types of businesses and services deal with more sensitive situations, and as such require a different approach than what we might use with commercial or basic consumer debt. One example of an industry that needs a tailored collection approach is nursing homes. This also applies to rehabilitative care, long term care facilities, assisted living, and other types of businesses that help our seniors stay healthy and vital for longer.
Good Collection Practice Starts With Intake
One thing that debt collection for nursing homes has in common with any other industry is that upfront communication is key. When a new resident moves in, have the discussion about what happens when they leave or pass away with an outstanding bill. Often, Medicare pay for nursing homes and long term care facilities , but that doesn’t always cover the entire bill. Ask who the responsible party will be if the resident moves out or passes away. Make every effort to get this information in writing and signed by the responsible party.
If there is no one willing to take on that role, which isn’t uncommon, ask for contact information for children or other relatives that may be involved in managing the resident’s estate. This way, at least you will have contact information even if no one will agree to financial responsibility in writing.
Finally, have a discussion about how collection of final expenses upon move-out or death are handled. Unfortunately, even if a resident moves out of your facility and doesn’t pass away, they are rarely leaving because they got healthier and more independent. The move out will always be more stressful than the move-in, so having a conversation up front that you can reference later can only help your collection efforts. Make sure the relatives are aware that you will work with them on payment arrangements as long as they stay in communication and make a good faith effort.
Compassion is Key
We don’t have to tell you that the people in your care are more than a balance due. So are their families. However, you do have a business to run that must uphold its obligations to other residents and their families. Therefore, it is important that you help people get their bills paid off in a timely manner.
The key here is compassionate communication. When you reach out for information about the debt, there are a few things you can do to show understanding while still working toward payment.
We typically recommend reaching out to settle a debt as quickly as possible, but this is one of the exceptions that prove the rule. This is especially true if the resident passed away or there has been another tragedy in the family. However, it is still statistically true that the chances of recovering a debt are reduced significantly after 90 days. You still have time to wait a few weeks to make contact about the debt. You can, however, make contact to give condolences. When you do reach out, be sure to acknowledge the loss or difficult time before talking about payment arrangements.
Work With An Expert
Collecting debts for nursing homes and similar facilities is a time consuming process. It’s very “high touch,” meaning it requires lots of follow up. This can be difficult for an accounting department that is busy with setting up new accounts and billing for regular services. We recommend partnering with a debt collection agency that specializes in working with long term care facilities, nursing homes, similar institutions. Southwest Recovery Services has many years of experience and a default of kind, compassionate collection technique that is a perfect fit for your needs.
Southwest Recovery Services Cares
We love helping nursing homes and long term care facilities manage their outstanding debt, collect payments, and keep their businesses running smoothly. Give us a call today to learn more about our services!