How To Handle Medical Deadbeats


Dealing With Patients Who Refuse To Pay

Handling patients with high deductibles health care plans and/or who refuse to pay in the ACA era is a growing financial risk for private medical practitioners.

By Ann Miller RN MHA

To help ameliorate the issue, some doctors are using a “credit card on file” program.

Enter “Credit-Card-on-File” Programs

Athenahealth has such a program where, once each year, the doctor swipes the credit card of each patient. Athena’s credit card partner (Elavon) stores the credit card information securely. The patient signs a one-year contract that gives permission to bill that card for any outstanding balances. This is the same concept as having a hotel swipe your credit card when you check-in but not bill you until you have checked-out.

Then, as soon as insurance has adjudicated the claim, the patient receives an email informing them that their credit card will be charged for the remaining balance in 5 days. If they have any issue with the bill they can contact the doctor’s office in that 5 day period. If not, their credit card is automatically charged for the balance due after 5 days. No work on the doctor’s office part is required once the card is swiped.


Reading the Fine Print of a CC on file agreement



Advantages include no need to send out patient statements, and days-in-AR for patient balances is reduced. And, essentially no staff time is spent collecting patient balances.

Another company ( offers helpful online courses on how to set this up a credit card on file program regardless of system used.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:



“This comprehensive text book provides an in-depth presentation of the cyber security and real risk management, asset protection and insurance issues facing all medical profession today. It is far beyond the mere medical malpractice concerns I faced when originally entering practice decades ago.”

Dr. Barbara s. Schlefman MA [Family Foot Care, PA, Tucker, Georgia]



Publisher-in-Chief | August 10, 2015 at 12:01 AM | Tags:, Patients Who Refuse to Pay | Categories: Practice Management, Risk Management | URL:

Comment    See all comments