Doctors Feel the Pain of Patients’ Failure To Pay Medical Bills

September 24, 2010 – In The News
Pittsburgh Business Times

Physicians are beginning to feel the burden of patients’ unpaid medical bills as the rough economy has resulted in higher-deductible health insurance plans. In some cases, patients are either unaware of the higher costs or simply feel unaccountable for the cost, believing insurance should cover it. Doctors may be unaware of the patient’s outstanding deductible until after the claim is filed, in which case, the doctors are left trying to compensate for unpaid fees.

According to Edward Kabala, rising delinquencies can mean lower contractual bonuses for doctors employed by one of the region’s two big academic medical centers, as at least half of the physician contract deals include a provision for bill collection. Employed doctors may not have a clue as to how many delinquent accounts there are because of the challenges of patient care. “Unless they’re savvy, they have no idea,” said Kabala. “As employed physicians, they don’t see the numbers anymore. They are really working for someone else, but they really have a lot of risk.”

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