Collector - August 2020 - 27
president of financial services markets for
RevSpring, a technology provider offering
solutions to collection agencies. "You're better
off doing a scrub upfront to save the money
rather than paying full postage, having the
letter returned and then having to pay again
to remail to a corrected address. It's a good
return on investment."
Implementing scrubbing processes may
avail agencies to the bona fide error defense
in the event they get sued.
"The whole concept behind the bona
fide error defense is to prevent errors in the
first place, and secondly to provide an 'out'
when there are the inevitable glitches or an
unintended error happens," Klutho said.
"If those scrubbing procedures avoid just
one lawsuit a year, it's going to save you real
money well in excess of their cost."
Under the bona fide error defense,
agencies can demonstrate that they had
procedures documented and in place
designed to prevent compliance violations.
Despite following the procedures, an honest,
technical "clean heart" error occurred,
causing an unintended violation.
While scrubs commonly help minimize
expenses, in some cases they can be used to
increase revenue as well.
When collecting health care accounts,
Brownlee usually scrubs accounts for
state Medicaid, state Blue Cross and Blue
Shield carriers, and between three and
six commercial carriers, based on the
medical provider's location and patient
For example, when Medicaid scrub
results are returned as "active," the patient
isn't responsible for paying the bill, allowing
the agency to refrain from contacting a
consumer who shouldn't be contacted. When
commercial carrier scrubs hit, even though
the patient is normally responsible for the bill,
the insurer is usually far more likely and able
to pay a significant portion of the account.
"We make consumers happy when we
advise them we know about their insurance
plan and we have made sure their insurance
has been billed properly," Brownlee said.
"When we come back to those consumers
with a request for the deductible and copay
for a couple hundred dollars, they normally
pay promptly because we resolved an issue
for them and because we're not asking them
for the full charges that were outstanding
when they initially received a bill. We have
happy consumers and we're getting accounts
Despite the obvious benefits of scrubbing
accounts, some agencies don't take
advantage of every type of scrub that makes
sense for their business.
In some cases, cost may be the deciding
factor, despite the increased risk and elevated
likelihood of an even more costly lawsuit.
In other instances, the idea of setting up yet
another process seems daunting.
"The biggest obstacle I encounter
is anxiety about adding more process,
adding more work," Gordon said. "The
programming to integrate a new service is
another item on the list of things on their
desk that need to be accomplished. The
thought of adding something else is an
obstacle. But the idea that allocating those
temporary resources is more painful than the
lawsuits that could be avoided is ludicrous."
When it comes to health care insurance
scrubs, agencies simply may not realize the
"Agencies are spending money on so many
things for compliance, risk mitigation and
everything else that it may be difficult for
health-care-focused agencies to see that if
they invest in insurance scrubbing, they will
actually recognize solid ROI," Brownlee said.
"Especially in smaller shops, they may be
hesitant to spend a sizable amount of money
not knowing whether they'll make a return
on the cost. Scrubbing for insurance can
be expensive, but there's also a tremendous
revenue potential in it."
Whether seeking to enhance revenue
or simply reduce risk and collection costs,
implementing the data scrubs that make
sense for an agency's account mix can help
achieve those goals.
Tim Dressen is a communications consultant
and former editor of Collector magazine.
Common account scrubs
reduce risk and help
minimize compliance threats.
processes can avail
agencies to the bona fide
error defense in the event
they get sued.
Not only do scrubbing
opportunities for greater revenue,
they can also make consumers
happy down the line.
Collector - August 2020
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