The pros and cons of self-pay amnesty programs was a recent topic of conversation on HFMA's Revenue Cycle Forum.

"Self-pay amnesty programs fall into the general category of prompt-pay discounts," writes David Hammer in a recent Ask the Expert Q&A on HFMA's Revenue Cycle Forum.

"In my experience, self-pay amnesty programs can work if they are not offered too regularly," continues Hammer, partner and senior executive, Accenture's Health & Public Services Operating Group, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. However, he cautions against using such programs as an inducement that encourages patients to choose one provider over another-which could violate Stark and other federal fraud laws. 

HFMA's Revenue Cycle Forum is an online community that encourages conversation and networking among revenue cycle and patient financial services leaders.

Learn more about HFMA's Revenue Cycle Forum

Self-pay amnesty was also the topic of a healthy discussion on the Revenue Cycle Forum listserv (which is only open to members of the Forum). Discussion participants offered the following strategies for a successful self-pay amnesty program.

  • Define an end date for the self-pay amnesty program and clarify which bills are covered by the discount
  • If using a third-party vendor, ask about its history of helping organizations with their self-pay amnesty programs and what has worked well in the past
  • Use scripting, media, or letters to announce or explain the self-pay amnesty program

One more tip: Consider offering self-pay amnesty programs during tax season when patients may have tax refunds to use in paying off debt. HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, Kingston, N.Y., was able to collect 36 percent of outstanding self-pay balances during the 2011 tax season, as detailed in the case study, Self-Pay Amnesty Program Brings in Cash.

Publication Date: Thursday, September 08, 2011