Lawrence Memorial Hospital plans to get tougher with patients who are slow to pay their bills.
The job of tracking down customers who haven't paid within seven days of billing is done by a three-person staff at LMH. Today, the city-owned hospital's board of trustees voted to eliminate two of those positions and to hire MC Financial Services of Columbia, Mo., to collect the bills.
The company will receive a 9 percent commission for collecting bills not covered by insurance policies. That includes bills for uninsured patients and deductibles and co-payments charged to insured patients -- in all, about 10 percent of the hospital's annual revenue, said Dennis Strathmann, the hospital's chief financial officer.
In 1994, that would have amounted to about $4 million in charges, meaning MC Financial Services stands to earn $360,000 or more annually from the LMH contract.
While it is unlikely the company will be able to collect all of the hospital's past-due bills, administrators said they hoped the company would be more successful than in-house collectors.
If so, the hospital expects not only to collect more but also to save money on commissions. That's because bills still unpaid after three months are turned over to collection agencies, which charge between 30 percent and 40 percent commissions.