Most Practices Wait to Send an Account to Collections

Medical Group Management Association’s MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare professionals to describe when a patient account is sent to an outside collection agency. A well-managed business office will focus attention on accounts that can be collected by in-house staff or the practice’s billing company and to send accounts that have a low probability of being paid to an external organization for collection. A prevalent trend in health insurance is to offer lower premiums but with a higher deductible that is the patients’ responsibility to pay, practices have an increased importance of managing their revenue cycle to maximize patient collections.

More than 75 percent of respondents indicated their organizations waited more than 90 days before an account was turned over to outside collections. Overall, only 7 percent indicated their organization never turned an account to collections and 32 percent responded they waited more than 120 days before they gave up on collecting an outstanding patient bill and sent it to an outside entity. The most common wait before sending a bill to collections was between 91 and 120 days following the service with 43 percent of the respondents. Only 2 percent indicated they waited less than 60 days and another 16 percent responded their organizations turned over an account when it was between 60 and 90 days old.

The poll was conducted on April 9, 2017 with 1,084 total responses. Of this total, 41 indicated the question was not applicable to their situation with a net of 1,043 answering the question.

MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management topics, the impact of new legislation, and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare professionals. Results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat is available at:

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