There is no question that bank failure, credit problems, and other issues create a situation where people find it necessary to make payments in cash, only.
While you will never need to worry about this money clearing for payment, it is still important to be aware of some of the risks associated with taking cash payments. In most cases, once you address these issues, you will find that both you and your staff members will feel more comfortable about this form of payment.
Large bills and counterfeits
If you visit a supermarket, or even a gas station, you will find that most clerks use a magic marker to determine whether or not they are dealing with counterfeit money. Rather than get stuck with counterfeits, and have them returned when you deposit to the bank, you may want to check large bills before you accept them. Typically, if you check bills $50.00 and up, you should be able to avoid most problems associated with counterfeits. While your patients may be upset to find out that the money they have on hand is not legitimate, you should not accept counterfeit bills in hopes that they will escape detection.
Receipts and patient accounting
When you take cash from a patient, you should always provide a receipt that has some type of identification number, as well as a method for tracking. No matter whether you use a receipt book with duplicate forms, or a computer printout, it is very important to make sure that every dollar is accounted for. You should also try to develop a system that will enable you to compare the money taken in each day with the money actually deposited in the bank. This includes taking time to count the money and signing off on it, as well as matching it up with the deposit slip once you take the money to the bank.
Cash and office safety
Chances are, if you read your local newspapers, you may be surprised to find that your neighborhood isn’t as safe as it used to be. While this may be the result of fewer police officers in the area or increased theft due to a weak economy, you still need to do what you can to protect your office from theft. Unfortunately, if a burglar or some other type of criminal thinks you have cash or other valuable items on the premises, they may decide to target you at an opportune moment. Aside from bringing large amounts of cash to the bank as quickly as possible, you may also want to install a silent alarm and CCTV system. Needless to say, keeping a locked box for cash on hand may also be of some help.
Regardless of how you look at it, accepting cash for co pays and office visits will most likely be a matter of routine in your office. On the other hand, if you encounter counterfeit bills, or patient accounts do not reflect payments, you will need to create some new policies to rectify these problems. At the same time, you should also evaluate your office from a security point of view, in order to ensure that you do not end up having your money.
Adam Alpers is a primary care physician and blogs at Medical Billing & Coding for Physicians.
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