More than half of Americans delay paying medical bills, according to a new revenue cycle report by West, and that is putting additional financial stress on the healthcare industry. In the past, providers received 90 percent of their reimbursement from insurance companies, but with the rise of high-deductible health plans, nearly a third of healthcare providers’ revenue now comes directly from patients.1
The Impact of Rising Healthcare Costs
- Affordability – 79 percent said affordability is the biggest problem with healthcare.
- Financial situation – 67 percent said their personal financial situation makes it difficult to pay on time.
- High deductibles – 42 percent cited unexpectedly high deductibles as the top reason they delay payments.
The research also found that a third of patients are confused about their insurance coverage: “What will insurance cover?” “Have I been billed for the correct services?” “What do I owe?” The result: 30 percent of patients wait for the final bill before they make a payment.3
Discussing Costs Reduces Patients’ Stress
Almost all providers (95 percent) realize that patients delay payments due to their financial situation,4 but only 23 percent regularly talk to patients about their ability to pay prior to delivering services.5 Engaging patients in conversations can also reduce anxiety about costs that often results in patients putting off treatment.
Leveraging Technology to Streamline A/R
Providers may not know they can use their existing patient appointment reminder technology to help communicate financial information and encourage on-time payments. Automated messages sent prior to appointments–via voice message, email or text–can inform patients of copayments and out-of-pocket costs. The automated reminder system can also be used to explain bills, let patients know what portion of costs is covered by insurance and how much patients owe out of pocket.
Advance notifications of financial obligations gives patients more time to plan for healthcare expenses and reduces delays. In turn, this helps providers streamline A/R processes and avoid collections costs, bad debt and write-offs. Leveraging existing technology in new ways can help both patients and providers overcome healthcare cost challenges.
Read the Full Report Here
1 USA Today, “Why more than half of hospital bills don’t get paid,” March 8, 2016.
2 West, Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Challenges Using Technology-Enabled Communications, 2017, pages 3-4.
3 Ibid., page 5.
4 Ibid., page 4.
5 Ibid., page 6.