This specific issue comes up frequently when MHM is asked to review the outstanding accounts of a private consultant surgeon.
There are two reasons normally why the patient believes they have already paid and more specifically the hospital has already taken payment. The first is
When the patient is registering at the hospital, he/she is frequently unaware or never even told the card details are for hospital fees only.
To overcome this, MHM recommends the client’s invoice bears the message “payment of this invoice is not covered by any debit / credit card details taken by the hospital”
To further help prevent the issue arising, MHM recommends that when the patient makes the booking for the initial consultation, he/she is told an invoice will be sent to them after the consultation.
Over the last year, twice MHM has amended the surgeon’s invoice to include the above sentence. In both cases, the number of outstanding self-funder invoices reduced.
The second reason is that the patient had a “package” with the hospital. Obviously the package covered the patient’s stay, surgery, anaesthetist and, most likely, follow up consultations.
This happens more often than is thought!
To resolve this issue MHM contacts the patient and request they check what was and what was not covered in the package. Payment of the surgeon’s initial consultation fee soon follows as the patient agrees the initial consultation fee is not covered.
BUT again when the consultant’s secretary confirms all items with the patient, the patient should have been advised the initial consultation was not covered.
Whilst there are in the real world some patients who do not pay upon receipt of an invoice, the vast majority do not pay or react to the invoice because they genuinely do not believe they owe the medical professional any money.