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Medical Collection Letter

By 1 April 2024May 4th, 2024No Comments
insurance marketing letters

How To Write A Medical Collection Letter For A Patient And 7 Tips To Improve Your Results

Medical dues are always a concerning point for healthcare providers. Most healthcare providers struggle to get a simple response from their patients regarding pending payments. Healthcare providers spend a significant amount of money on printing and mailing medical collection letters, only to get no response from patients.

notifying patients of physicians leaving practice letter

But what if we tell you that you could create effective collection letters for your healthcare organization and get valid responses from the patients? We will explain how healthcare organizations write an effective medical collection letter here. 

Through this guide, you can take a look at some tips to generate a valid response from your patients. The guide even includes a collection letter sample so you can get a complete understanding of what your collection letter should look like.

How to Write an Effective Medical Collection Letter for Your Patients?

Writing an effective medical collection letter can often be challenging. Healthcare providers must understand how to draft effective collection letters. You must ensure that the message and the situation's urgency are conveyed clearly to the patient.

There are several steps to ensure the quality of your healthcare organization's medical collection letters. Implement the following measures to create a compelling collection letter for your healthcare organization.

Step 1: Ensure Your Mailer Can Catch The Reader's Attention

The average person receives dozens of letters every week, and many of them are just junk mail. Junk mail is poorly targeted marketing materials sent to the customer via postal mail. People usually tend to put the junk mail in the trash after a glance through it.

There is a good chance that the patient disregards your medical collection letter after mistaking it for junk mail. Hence, your medical collection letters must catch the recipient's attention at first glance itself. You can use some nifty techniques to make your collection letters more attention-grabbing. Consider the following methods, for instance:

The 3:33 Rule

There are just three things that you need to know about the 3:33 rule, and they are as follows.

  • Your medical collection letter needs to stand out from the rest of the mailers a customer receives within 3 seconds of receiving it.
  • The healthcare collection letter you use needs to engage with the recipient within 30 seconds of receiving the letter.
  • After the recipient has read the letter, you have 3 minutes to prompt the desired response from them.

The 3:33 rule was originally created for sending promotional or marketing materials to customers via mail. However, it is an effective way to ensure that your medical collection letter does not get mistaken for junk and catches the recipient's attention.

Plan Out The Look For Your Medical Collection Letter

What matters most when the patient first sees your collection letter? How can you ensure that the recipient knows the letter is from you even before opening the envelope? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before sending out your medical collection letters.

Some of the aspects you need to take into consideration for planning the look and feel of your medical collection letter are:

  • The recipient should be able to tell the sender of the letter before opening the envelope
  • You need to ensure that the mailer looks official and thoroughly professional
  • Make sure to add personal touches to the letter that shows a person wrote and signed it

The best way to accomplish this is to keep all these aspects in mind when designing your collection of letters. Additionally, make it a point to add your brand logo and ensure the design aligns with your branding for everything you send.

Prioritize The Trust Factor

The trust factor in commercial space is different from the one in healthcare. For a commercial product or service, you first have to gain the customer's trust so that they buy your product/service. In healthcare, especially in the case of a medical collection letter, the patient already trusts you and git their healthcare service from you.

However, when sending direct mail communications, this gap between the commercial and healthcare sector reduces significantly. In other words, sending a mailer is equally difficult for the commercial and healthcare industries.

Thankfully, it also means that the direct mail strategies for commercial audiences will work on your patients. Additionally, you can enhance your direct mail communication by using direct mail service providers like PostGrid, which offers specialized print and mail services for healthcare.

Step 2: Identify Must-Have Information On Your Medical Collection Letter

Now that you have a well-designed letter and envelope that your patients can quickly identify, you can begin drafting your medical collection letter. It should be relatively easy for healthcare organizations to draft a collection letter because it is common for other businesses.

The entire financial industry revolves around bad debts and collection letters of all kinds. You can use the knowledge from different sources like this to create the perfect collection letter for your healthcare organization. Go through many medical collection letter examples and research online for drafting your letter.

Information You Should Include In Your Medical Collection Letter

The collection letter for your healthcare organization is an important document. Hence, it must always contain all the relevant details the patient needs. Here is a list of information you should always include in your medical collection letters.

  • Balance due
  • Due date
  • Account number
  • Account status
  • Patient responsibility
  • Office hours
  • Financial relief

Seeing all the details stated above in the letters enables the patient to get a good idea of your medical collection letter. Furthermore, highlighting these pieces of information is an effective way of saying “This is what you owe” and “This is how you can pay us.” It also helps the patient access the required details to make the payment easily.

Ensure The Validity of Your Address Data

The best thing you can hope for when sending a medical collection letter is that the patient didn't receive their statement in the first place. But, even in this case, there is a big concern that you need to address. If the patient didn't receive the mailer, it could mean that you sent it to the wrong address.

For commercial businesses, such an issue would not be a big deal. But, with patient data, sending the collection letter to the wrong address opens up a different Pandora's box, i.e., HIPAA compliance. Any HIPAA violation can lead to severe consequences and heavy fines.

However, the more likely scenario of why the patient's payment got delayed is because they could not afford it at the moment. An interesting piece of data released by CNBC says that almost 1 in 4 Americans are skipping medical care because of the cost. Unfortunately, this is a reality that all healthcare providers must face before sending a medical collection letter.

Step 3: Maintain A Friendly Tone In Your Communication

At this point, we know the design considerations for the collection letters that a healthcare provider sends. Now, we can move on to the messaging part, more specifically to the tone of your message. The tone you set for your medical collection letter can significantly impact the effectiveness of your letter.

Let's face it; no one enjoys writing a letter to people asking them to make their overdue payments. Yet, it still needs to be done.

Avoid Being Harsh or Misunderstood By The Patients

It is so easy to misunderstand communication when the other person can not see your face or hear your tone of voice. People, in general, tend to misinterpret your tone of voice, and it is only more common in a medical collection letter. Hence, healthcare service providers must be extra careful with the style of voice they choose for the collection letter.

Use Light-Hearted or Collaborative Tone

One of the safest approaches is to maintain a light-hearted tone. You can also consider a style that suggests a collaborative approach for settling the patient's payment dues. The collaborative manner is often more encouraging to the patient and feels almost reassuring.

Be As Empathetic As You Can

Being a healthcare provider is not always about money. But, by the end of the day, healthcare is also a business, and it can not function without money. You can't go around the part where you ultimately ask for the payment. However, you can remain empathetic in your message and its tone.

Sending a medical collection letter means you have already sent multiple statements to the patient. When you finally have to send the collection letter, you have the choice to be polite and work out a solution. Even being relatively firm can come off as intimidating to the patient.

Reasons Patients Delay Payment

40% of American adults need help clearing their healthcare debts. However, a few factors hinder prompt payment or lead to avoidance:

Confusion About the Bill

Some patients need help understanding what they owe or find the bill confusing. Thus, drafting, printing, and sending invoices with upfront layouts is essential. Also, you must send these mailers on time, helping people contact you if they need help understanding something.

Financial Constraints

Affordability is significant because some patients simply cannot pay the bill. They might need some time. Hence, connecting with them and offering the option to pay in installments can help.

Missed or Forgotten Bills

A patient may have forgotten to pay the bill if they weren't reminded by the practice.

You can set up triggered mailings to send reminders, letting you manage a few unpaid bills.

While a small percentage may resist payment, aggressive tactics, including forceful letters, are unlikely to work. Please note that even a well-crafted medical collection letter won't persuade this group, necessitating a referral to a collection agency. 

However, it's crucial to recognize that the patients falling into the above categories, who struggle with confusion or financial constraints, require assistance rather than aggressive communication. Heavy-handed approaches may annoy them, and it's essential to avoid burning bridges with current patients by establishing a supportive rather than confrontational atmosphere.

Things to Keep in Mind

The below steps might help you receive payments faster:

Showcase Empathy

If patients owe money and have yet to pay, it's crucial for your business that they do. However, how do you tell them this without scaring them with threats of getting a collections agency involved? You have to be urgent but not too scary. 

We suggest saying something like, “We know you might be having money problems, but we need payment from all our patients to keep giving good medical care.” 

Medical bills can be confusing, so it's okay for patients to ask questions. Encourage practices to help patients understand their bills, saying, “…if patients have questions, they should ask us. We are here to help.” This way, you show understanding, put yourself in their shoes, and offer assistance for any confusion they might have about their medical bills.

Clarity in Communication

When communicating with patients about overdue accounts, presenting only the essential facts is advisable. Avoid invoking collections agencies or legal threats. 

Clearly outline the amount owed and the corresponding services, followed by an explanation of available payment options. Understand the significance of accepting all forms of payment to facilitate a smoother resolution. 

Also, please maintain a straightforward and concise tone in your communication, steering clear of legalistic language.

Strategic Follow-Up

Deploy a tactful follow-up strategy, sending a series of letters while exercising restraint. Initiate with a “friendly reminder” letter when the account reaches 30 days past due, setting a new payment due date. 

If there's no response by the specified date, follow up with a courteous phone call to address any questions and remind the patient of the outstanding balance. Should the accounts remain unresolved at the 45- to 60-day mark, a second letter is advisable, adopting a firmer stance. 

For instance, state, ‘If we do not receive payment or hear from you by November 1, 2015, we will need to consider taking alternative action.’ This approach maintains a balance between persistence and understanding, encouraging timely resolution without escalating to harsh measures prematurely.

What Does a Medical Collection Letter Do?

The process of medical debt collection kicks in when you hand an overdue medical bill to a debt collection agency. Dealing with this situation can be challenging, and the stress of hearing from a debt collector is no small matter.

For many consumers, hefty medical bills can feel overwhelming. Most health insurance policies only cover some expenses, leaving those without top-tier coverage wondering how to manage the remaining costs. 

While making regular payments on medical bills is a common financial strategy, it doesn't guarantee immunity from collections. Those hoping to pay only a portion of the bill may contact a collection agency if the debt lingers too long or they don’t pay on time.

If you need help paying the entire amount, it's crucial to communicate with the provider or hospital. Many providers are willing to set up a payment plan, but getting the agreement in writing is essential. 

Some hospitals even have arrangements with specific banks for interest-free payment plans spanning 2-3 years, provided payments are made on time.

Keeping an open line of communication with the provider or seeking advice from a certified debt counselor is essential for making payments manageable and avoiding involving collection agencies.

7 Tips For Improving The Results Of Your Medical Collection Letter

We know writing medical collection letters is not easy. Furthermore, you can never get everyone to make their due payments regardless of how well-made you create the medical collection letter. However, you can make your medical collection letters more appealing and empathetic to maximize their effectiveness to the recipient. Here are some tips you can use to make your collection letters more effective.

1. Group Your Collections List

Generally, there are four reasons why a patient delay their healthcare payments, and they are:

  • The patient is confused about understanding the bill
  • The patient unintentionally missed or forgot to make the payment
  • The patient can not afford to make the payment at the moment
  • The patient had no intention of making the payment in the first place

By going through your collections list and examining them closely, you can categorize them into one of the four groups. Grouping your patients like this will help you make specialized medical collection dispute letters for each group.

However, it is not an easy practice to implement and may sometimes depend on certain assumptions. Hence, it would be best to ask practitioners for their insights. It might surprise you to learn how much information the physician or nurse can provide on specific patients.   

When you group the collections list into four groups, the last group is treated differently from the rest. Only the last group does not have a legitimate reason for not making their healthcare payments. Hence, you can use more delicate communication with the first three categories of patients.

2. Send A Gentle Reminder 

Whatever the reason for the nonpayment status of the patient, you need to send them a reminder first. The payment reminder is usually sent before the letter of explanation for medical collections. As you can guess, the purpose of the payment reminder is merely to let the patient know that their medical bill is overdue.

When writing a payment reminder for your healthcare patients, you shouldn't hint at anything that may sound like a threat or intimidation. Instead, you can try acknowledging in your letter that the details of the medical bill may be hard to understand. 

Additionally, you can invite the patient to contact you via phone calls or any other means to answer any questions they may have. You can even use an automated direct mail tool like PostGrid to send reminders automatically to your patients.

3. Consider Sending A Text 

Many healthcare practitioners are now using text messages to inform their patients about their invoices. Texts are particularly effective if the customer unintentionally misses or forgets to make their healthcare payments. You may not even have to send the medical collection dispute letter in such cases.

Texts are ideal for noninvasive communication compared to others, such as phone calls. Perhaps, the best thing about it is that you can receive immediate payments. Furthermore, it is the best alternative to direct mail if you don't have an accurate direct mail system.

Millennials take their phones with them everywhere they go. It is relatively easy for the text to catch their attention. You can even add links in the text messages that the patient can use for easy and convenient payment. Similarly, the link can also lead to a landing page where patients can raise their questions about their dues. 

4. Let Them Know You Are There To Help 

Another thing you can do to create a better medical collection letter is to ask how you can assist patients with their payment plans. Even the fact that you are willing to help your patients with their payment plans shows that you care about them.

Furthermore, it is an indication that the patient's health is your first concern, even before money. Hence, it is ideal for building a good patient relationship for your healthcare business. Even something as simple as “Can we help you?” in your letters may be enough to prompt a response from the patient. 

The response may not always be the one you want. Sometimes the patient may ask for a grace period, help from their insurer, or a discount on the bill. However, any such response is still better than no response as it is still a step in the right direction. Apart from all this, a sensitive medical collection dispute letter can also help you build patient loyalty.

5. Avoid Your Medical Collection Letters Sounding Too Stern

Collection letters, in general, tend to use very harsh language. Medical collection letters sometimes mention that the patient would be sent to a collections agency unless they make an immediate payment. 

Apart from the message itself, the collection letter also includes phrases such as “Final Warning,” “Delinquent,” and “Third and final attempt.” In other words, the standard medical collection letter assumes that the nonpayment is by choice.

But, in reality, most patients have a valid and justifiable reason for not making the payment in time. And more to the point, intimidating letters rarely work even though they may scare some people. But for a chronic or seasoned debtor, it is just another collection letter to ignore.  

Another possible reaction to such stern language in your letter of explanation for medical collections is anger. No one likes to be called a delinquent, and it might be enough to trigger some people. Hence, there is a chance that the patient delayed their payment intentionally because they got angry about the collection letter.

6. Don't Hesitate To Call The Patient If Necessary

It is not uncommon to encounter patients who do not respond to your medical collection letters. But, even at this stage, you should give the patient the benefit of the doubt. It is okay to resort to phone calls when your letters go unanswered.

However, the purpose of the call is not to guilt-trip your patients or intimidate them. The phone call should be an informative one. It might help to assume that the patient did not receive any of the medical collection letters you sent.

Make it a point to gently let the patient know that you haven't received their payment. Then go on to ask them whether the patient has any questions regarding the statement or the amount they need to pay. Furthermore, you can also offer the patient to set up a payment plan to help them.

7. Use A Tested Medical Collection Letter Template

It is always better to use a tested medical collection letter for your healthcare organization than try a new one. Testing new collection letters for your healthcare organization is relatively easy if you have a print and mail API tool like PostGrid

It enables you to track your direct mail communication and gather valuable insights. As a result, you can quickly identify the most effective medical collection letter and use it for your future collection efforts. Some of the critical aspects to consider when selecting the ideal collection letter template for your healthcare business are:

  • The collection letter template should be direct about the message.
  • Ensure the collection letter template uses polite language throughout the collection letter.
  • The collection letter template you choose must have a non-threatening tone.

Medical Collection Letter Sample

There is no easy formula for writing a medical collection letter. We have already discussed what to do and what not to do when creating a healthcare collection letter. The following example of a collection letter from the medical office will help you get a comprehensive picture of your collection letter.

Sample Medical Collection Letter #1

Dear [Patient Name],

We sent you a billing statement to you over a month ago regarding the healthcare services you accessed from [Provider Name]. Till now, we have not yet received a response from you.

We want to inform you that your current balance with [Provider Name] is $[Provider Balance].

Patient statements and insurance slips can be confusing at times. If that is the case, you can always seek our help regarding any question you have about your payment dues.

Our organization is duty-bound to help patients who are experiencing financial difficulties. If that is the case with you, please feel free to get in touch with us so we can come up with an amicable payment solution for you.

Our goal is to help you fulfill your commitment without any hardships. So, please feel free to contact us at [Phone Number]

If you have already made the payment mentioned above, please disregard this letter.

We look forward to hearing from you soon or that you make the due payment within five days.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

Sample Medical Collection Letter #2

Dear [Patient Name],

We hope you are doing well!

Just giving you a heads-up that you still owe $5,000. We sent you the bill on October 20, 2023, but you might have missed making the payment. This letter is a friendly reminder to settle that amount.

If you need help navigating your money-related problems or clarity about the payment—please contact our customer care executives. We know medical bills can be tricky, and our team is here to help sort things out. We even have some simple payment plans to make things easier if money's tight.

Please get in touch with your insurance officer promptly for the swift resolution of this bill, provided it falls within the coverage of your medical insurance policy.

Kindly pay in full within seven working days of receiving this correspondence.

If you have already submitted the payment, please disregard this letter. Your timely cooperation is greatly valued. Should you require additional clarification, you can reach out to us.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
[NAME]

Conclusion

Healthcare providers often send medical collection letters to their patients. There are a lot of factors you need to consider while creating collection letters for your healthcare business. Additionally, there are several other strategies you can try to make your collection letters more effective.

It is up to the healthcare provider to draft an empathetic and effective collection letter for its patients. However, merely crafting the message for your collection letter is not enough. It would be best to have an advanced print and mail tool like PostGrid for sending letters effectively.

With an advanced tool like PostGrid, you can easily personalize, print, and deliver your medical collection dispute letter. Furthermore, PostGrid is a HIPAA-compliant direct mail tool that ensures the security of patient data and streamlines your entire healthcare communication.

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