Chiropractic and The Virtual Credit Card Payment

STEVEN CLARK, DC

Chiropractic practices throughout the country have seen an uptick in carriers and other payors providing payment for healthcare services with “virtual” credit cards, instead of paper checks. This form of payment can cause a bookkeeping nightmare and increase expenses for the practice, in the processing of the cards.

When an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is sent to a provider’s office, instead of a paper check being attached, the carrier has a printed (not plastic) credit card affixed on the paperwork, that must be processed throughout the typical credit card processing procedures many offices currently have in place.

Process the credit card through the terminal, and payment is put into your account within a day or so. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Several challenges come into play with virtual credit cards. First, what happens if the providers office does not accept credit cards? How is the provider supposed to get paid for the care provided?

Let’s say you do, in fact, accept credit cards in your office. The virtual credit card to be processed now costs you an additional credit card processing fee.  As reimbursements go down, costs continue to rise.

The virtual credit cards also become problematic if your mail is lost or stolen, causing a nightmare, because anyone can use that card to pay for purchases anywhere. You treat a patient and a thief could steal your mail and use your virtual credit card for a nice vacation, while you are working long hours in your practice.

Carriers and payors are attempting to push you into Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), where the payment for your services gets electronically transferred from the payor to your business account, which does afford faster payment. The provider would need to set up the process between the payor and the provider’s own banking institution with strict security measures in place.

A number of states allow providers to opt out of receiving virtual credit cards, if you want to continue to receive checks.

If you don’t want virtual credit cards as payment, call the payor directly and request that they stop sending the cards and return to sending paper checks. You may have to be a bit forceful in your request but many will return your practice back to receiving paper checks.

If you do want EFT payments from the payor, call and find out what the steps in the process are, and complete the appropriate paperwork or filings.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you keep copious records so you can keep control of your practice as well as avoid confusion for your patient accounts.