Can Patients Be Charged for Missed Visits?

There is nothing more frustrating than when a patient misses an appointment. No-shows impact a therapy practice by devoting more staff time to follow-up and reschedule, lost time that was allotted to the patient and perhaps more importantly, the lost revenue involved. We can’t forget about the patient either, who will not be receiving his or her treatment. Furthermore, another patient who may need medical treatment is unable to take that time slot and has to wait.

We are asked quite often about no-shows. Can your therapy office charge for that missed opportunity? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy yes or no answer to this because of the variables involved. Yes, there are circumstances where you can charge for a missed appointment, but like everything else in life, a little “C.Y.A.” goes a long way.

In the past, CMS precluded providers from charging Medicare patients for no-shows, but recently CMS provided new guidance on billing Medicare patients for missed appointments. Now, Medicare allows a no-show fee as long as the practice:

  • Has a written policy on missed appointments that is provided to all patients. (Providers may also want to obtain patients’ signatures to acknowledge receipt of this policy as an extra preventive measure).
  • Ensures that the missed appointment policy applies equally to all patients.
  • Establishes that the billing staff is aware that Medicare beneficiaries should be billed directly for missed appointments.
  • Ensures that charges for missed appointments are reflective of a missed business opportunity and not the cost of the service itself.

Having a well-written policy in place not only helps you collect on those no-shows, but helps deter missed appointments in the first place. As with most policies, up-front communication is crucial to keeping that patient schedule running smoothly.

What can you charge for this no-show? As long as you follow the guidelines above, it is up to you to decide what to charge. According to an NIH study, most providers charge in the range of $35 to $50.

Another way to decrease no-shows is by consistently sending your patient's appointment reminders. These reminders can be delivered via phone, email or even text. Just make sure that you’re using a system that includes all three reminder options and the ability to customize your reminder messages without any extra charges (like StrataPT does). reminder calls. Recent surveys have shown that making a reminder call three to four days in advance works better than calls made the day before the appointment, where patients may miss the call or have already made other plans.

Some insurance plans are now including transportation choices for their patients. If you have a patient that depends on other rides for their appointments, it may be beneficial to let them know what their individual plan offers. That way, if a friend or neighbor bails on their planned ride, they can still get a ride to your therapy practice.

If you still have questions about how to bill for no-shows or need a system to automatically send out your patient's appointment reminders, StrataPT is here to help your therapy practice run smoothly and efficiently. If you want to spend less time completing documentation and more time treating patients, StrataPT has your practice covered, every step of the way. We are the nation’s leading business operating system for physical therapy and occupational therapy practices, backed by outstanding, 100% US-based, customer support. Contact us today to schedule a demo.

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