Find collections information and answers to dentists' frequently asked questions from Physicians & Dentists Credit Bureau, a WSDA endorsed company
When can I send an account to collections?
An account can be sent to collection as soon as you have determined your patient does not intend to honor their debt. In the event that insurance is involved, you may want to check your contractual obligations.
Do I have to notify a patient before I send them to collections?
No, a patient does not have to be notified prior to being sent to a collection agency. Any notification that is sent to the patient is strictly a courtesy on your part.
Can I charge interest on my patient's past due balance?
Yes, according to Washington state usury laws (RCW 19.52.010) interest can be charged on your patient's past due balance at the rate of one percent per month; 12 percent annually.
Can I send a patient to collection if they have mail returned?
Yes, you can send a patient to collection even if your statements are being returned, but we do suggest that you send us the last known address of the patient.
I have a patient that is 18 years old and covered under his parents insurance, who is responsible for the bill?
All charges incurred after the patient's 18th birthday are no longer chargeable to his parents. For the parents to be held financially responsible, a financial responsibility form must be completed and signed by the parents, after the patient's 18th birthday and prior to any charges.
When does the patient's bill reach statute of limitations?
In the state of Washington, once an account has been sent to collections the agency has six years from the date of last treatment or date of last payment.
Can I bill a patient for services if they have filed bankruptcy?
Yes, if the services were provided after the date of filing. Debts incurred after the filing date are not included in the automatic stay and are the patient's responsibility.
If I have a signed agreement stating a collection fee will be added on my accounts before I send them to a collection agency will this over-ride RCW 19.16.250?
No, unless the account is a commercial account and the agreement between the parties provides for collection costs.
Collections Checklist - What Information to Collect
The more information your office provides on each account, the higher the probability of a successful collection. The job is not always collecting an account but finding the patient so collection is possible. To maximize profits and increase your company's bottom line, try to provide the key pieces of information on the responsible party. Providing good information will ensure the most effective measures have been put in place to successfully collect on your accounts.
• Date of Birth
• Phone Numbers
• Social Security Number
• Place and Phone Number of Employment
• Spouse Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Place of Employment
Collections Do's and Don'ts
• Regularly update patient information
• Ask for spouse information
• Obtain the responsible party and spouses place of employment
• Leave a collection message on a voicemail
• Contact a patient at work after they request no contact
• Place a collection sticker on the outside of an envelope
The two types of bankruptcies that are usually filed by patients are Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Both types of bankruptcy will remain on the patient's credit report for 10 years.
Chapter 7 is a complete liquidation with no assets to pay back creditors.
Chapter 13 is a reorganization of the patient's debts and is typically used to budget the patient's future earnings. A proof of claim must be filed with the court and creditors could be paid in whole or part.
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Seattle, WA 98168
Phone: (206) 624-1661
Fax: (206) 624-0258