If you have a merchant services integration with Bluefin, you can set a charge up on a payment plan so that payments are taken automatically at set intervals and applied towards the charge.
- Subscription Billing with Bluefin
- Grouping Family/ Small-Business Subscriptions - Bluefin ONLY
- Setting up multiple merchant service accounts (Bluefin)
Step 1: Add the Charge
The first step to creating a payment plan is to add the charge to the patient's account for the total amount to be paid. That charge must be added outside of an encounter note, directly to the yellow Billing block.
Currently, a payment plan applies only to a single charge - that is, you cannot create one payment plan that will take payment and automatically apply it towards multiple outstanding charges. Instead, you would need to create one consolidated charge to set it up on a payment plan. As payments are made on the payment plan, they will automatically be applied toward the specific charge.
Step 2: Set Up the Payment Plan
To set an existing (unpaid) charge up on a payment plan, click the plus button on the billing block, then on More Options, then on Create Payment Plan:
Then you will select from among the patient's unpaid charges which charge you want to put on a payment plan, the number of payments in the payment plan, and the payment frequency:
Based on your selections, a proposed payment schedule will be generated automatically, assuming that the first payment date should be today. You can adjust the payment dates and amounts before adding the payment plan, if needed. But note that if you adjust any payment dates or amounts, the other payment dates and amounts are not automatically recalculated/ adjusted. So to adjust the entire payment schedule to begin in the future, for example, you would need to edit every payment installment date. And while you can adjust payment installments to be different amounts, the total amount of the payment plan must equal the total amount of the underlying charge.
Click on the green "+ Add Payment Plan" button to finalize the payment plan and schedule those payments. When the date of a payment plan installment arrives, the system will automatically try to take payment on the patient's payment method on file (if they have multiple payment methods, you can star one of them under Patient Information > Billing to ensure it is used for automatic payments). If the payment does not succeed, you will see a failure notice at the top right of your Schedule page, and in Reporting > Recurring Invoices.
If the first payment is set to run the same day, it will generally run within an hour. The cutoff for same day payments is 8pm in your local EHR timezone.
Editing a Payment Plan
In the patient's billing history, you can see any charges that are currently on a payment plan, which will be marked "On Plan." You can click where it says On Plan to:
- Mark one or more installments as paid
- Cancel remaining payments and reschedule
- Cancel remaining payments without rescheduling
If a patient makes a payment towards the underlying charge outside of the automatic payment plan, you can click on "On Plan" beside the charge to mark the applicable installment(s) as paid (which will prevent those from being re-attempted). Or, if the extra payment is less straightforward and doesn't match up exactly with installment amounts, you can:
- Cancel Remaining payments
- Make the additional payment manually and apply it to the charge
- Set up a new payment plan for that charge, which will be calculated on the adjusted amount due.
To see who has active payment plans practice-wide, go to Reporting > Recurring Invoices.
Deleting, Voiding, Editing a Charge that is on a Payment Plan
If the underlying charge is deleted or voided, that will cancel the remaining unpaid payment plan installments. Any installments that were already paid will be unaffected, and would need to be refunded separately if desired (by right clicking on those payment and selecting Refund Options, then Full Refund or Partial Refund as applicable).
If the underlying charge is edited, that will not affect the remaining unpaid payment plan installments.
Special Use Case: Using a Payment Plan to Create an Account Credit
Generally, payment plan payments are applied automatically to the original charge, so would not be available to apply to other charges in the patient's account. However, you can set up a payment plan to create an unallocated account credit that is available to apply to future charges. To do that, you would follow the steps above to add the charge and set it up on a payment plan, and then EDIT the underlying charge. If you want the full amount to be an available/ unallocated credit in the patient's account (once payments are made towards the payment plan), then you would edit the charge amount to zero. If you want only some of that amount to be available/ unallocated credit, then you would edit the charge amount to be the amount that should NOT be an available/ unallocated credit. Payment plan payments will first go towards paying down the underlying charge, with additional payments beyond that amount then creating an account credit that would be available to apply to other charges.
This article was originally published on October 23rd, 2018, and was most recently updated on September 14th, 2021.