Change is the norm for healthcare, especially when it comes to accounts receivable.

Healthcare providers are being bombarded by regulation on all fronts–by the federal government, by states, even by counties and cities. There are rules and guidelines that amount to thousands of pages of text with imposing-sounding names and a dizzying array of acronyms:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  • Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

And, of course, the granddaddy of them all: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

We have all come to learn that these regulations can change seemingly on a moment’s notice. Only this year HIPAA was updated to the tune of 563 pages, containing numerous important and not-so-important modifications that affect how every healthcare provider handles its accounts receivable. Each new regulation and requirement is like a tightening of the laces of a straitjacket.

How can provider organizations like yours keep it all straight and stay compliant? And more importantly, where can you turn to get answers? Take a breath and relax, because I can tell you how to stay abreast with just one little phone call.

Ready? Ask your collections partner.

Maintaining compliance can seem like a full-time job, but with your collections partner you have a resource whose job it is to keep abreast of the latest trends and changes to regulation. Has the Medical Debt Responsibility Act passed? Ask your partner. Has that proposed 240-day window on collections been enacted by the Internal Revenue Service? Don’t hesitate to ask your service provider partners.

If your collections partner doesn’t know the answer, they can find out for you because it is their business to stay informed. This is especially true of larger firms that serve numerous clients and firms that manage collections for clients that cross jurisdictional boundaries, such as multi-state territories. Collections partners with larger footprints have bigger networks from which to draw and share information about the industry as whole.

The best partners will not only be able to inform you if legislation has passed or an agency has changed regulations, but also be able to keep you abreast of trends and potential future developments. Forewarned is forearmed, especially in the world of accounts receivable where compliance is central to avoiding penalties and fines.

If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask. These are your collection partners, and like any partnership, the better the collaboration and communication, the stronger your overall collection infrastructure will be.

John Owen is the Director of Client Development at DECA Financial Services in Fishers, Indiana. Check out other great content in the DECA Blog–Bottom Line Results Matter–on insidePatientFinance.com.


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