New “Optimizing Revenue” report reveals that although almost all Americans feel healthcare is too expensive, providers can reduce delayed payments and increase revenues by communicating with patients about healthcare costs
- Nearly three in five Americans (56%) delay paying their medical bills. Two-thirds (67%) of patients say their financial situation makes it difficult to pay their medical bills on time.
- Patients cite high insurance deductibles as the top reason behind delayed payments (42%), and more than one-third (36%) find it difficult to remember to pay their bills on time. Patients say other factors contributing to payment delays include confusion over how much insurance will cover versus patient responsibility (30%), and receiving bills for services they don’t think they should have to pay for (30%).
- Patients are foregoing healthcare due to cost. Around three in four patients (77%) say high deductibles impact how often they see their provider, and 75 percent say cost impacts their decisions about whether to receive healthcare or get preventive screenings or tests.
- Although 95 percent of providers recognize patients may delay payments due to financial hardships, only 23 percent of providers make it a habit to discuss each patient’s ability to afford healthcare prior to delivering services, just 21 percent send automated reminders to notify patients when payments are due, and a mere 15 percent currently send messages – either by phone, text or email – to explain bills and let patients know what portion of the cost is covered by insurance.
MOBILE, Ala., August 28, 2017 — The majority of Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills and foregoing healthcare due to cost, according to a new study released today by West, a leading provider of technology-enabled patient engagement communications, including the well-known TeleVox Solutions. Additionally, the study reveals that although almost all Americans feel healthcare is too expensive, providers can reduce delayed payments and increase revenues by communicating with patients about healthcare costs.
“High deductible health plans are placing a financial strain on both patients and providers,” said Allison Hart, West’s chief market research and insights strategist. “Our research findings indicate high deductible health plans are the number one reason patients delay paying medical bills. And, when we asked providers, 95 percent of them told us they recognize patients may delay bill payments because of their financial situation, yet only 23 percent make it a habit to always discuss each patient’s ability to afford healthcare prior to delivering services.”
The study titled, “Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Challenges”, reveals nearly three in five Americans (56%) delay paying their medical bills. Although high deductibles are the reason 42 percent of patients delay payments, confusion and lack of information are also contributing factors. Thirty percent of patients delay paying medical bills because they are confused about how much insurance will cover versus what they are responsible for paying, three in four patients (75%) are unaware of the cost of their healthcare services until after they have received a bill, and 30 percent of patients admit they delay bill payment for services they don’t think they should have to pay.
“Eighty-five percent of patients feel there are strategies that providers could use to encourage and help them pay their medical bills on time,” said Hart. “Providers can open the door to payment discussions by using the automated voice message, email or text message appointment reminders they are already sending in advance of scheduled appointments to inform patients of potential copayments and out-of-pocket costs. By making this simple adjustment, providers can start conversations that identify payment barriers and help patients overcome those challenges.”
The study also shows Americans are foregoing healthcare due to concerns about cost. In fact, 75 percent of Americans say high deductibles impact their decisions about whether to receive healthcare. Seventy-seven percent of women, 40 percent of men, and 42 percent of chronic patients say high deductibles have impacted their decisions on how often they receive preventive screenings. And 84 percent of parents say financial concerns have impacted decisions about their child’s healthcare.
“Patients are currently opting out of preventive care because they believe it is too costly,” said Hart. “In fact, three in four Americans (75%) admit that high insurance deductibles impact how often they get preventive screenings or tests, which is unfortunate as many treatment services are covered under their current health plans. This is precisely why healthcare teams need to be communicating with their patients about the affordability and availability of services.”
Providers recognize that preventive care generates revenue opportunities. The study reveals 63 percent of providers are prioritizing the promotion of preventive care services to drive new revenue. “When healthcare providers identify patients that are eligible for a preventive care service and send an automated voicemail asking them to schedule their preventive screening, they can book incremental appointments every year,” said Hart.
The study also shows that providers recognize chronic care offers reimbursement opportunities – 20 percent of medical practice and 18 percent of hospital and health system providers report that CMS’ Chronic Care Management program is the top care program they are focusing on currently. Providers are permitted to bill Medicare if they provide at least 20 minutes of support per enrolled patient in a calendar month, according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “The assigned care team member can use existing appointment reminder technology to schedule recurring monthly calls with each patient to provide support and fulfill billing requirements, a strategy that enables providers to earn a $40 reimbursement for every enrolled patient each month,” Hart said.
Chronic patients want support and are willing to pay for services that will help them manage chronic conditions. The study revealed nearly 7 in 10 chronic patients (66%) would be willing to pay their provider up to $10 per month for between-visit support from their medical team. “Enrolling as many patients as possible in chronic disease management programs not only allows providers to improve patient experiences and the health of many Americans, it also enables providers to maximize chronic care reimbursements,” said Hart. “With healthcare costs weighing heavily on the minds of patients across the nation, it’s more important than ever for providers to begin communicating with patients about healthcare costs and services by using the technology they already have in place – their appointment reminder technology – so they can reduce delayed payments and increase revenues.”
About The West Corporation Insights & Impact Study: Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Challenges
Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Challenges Using Technology-Enabled Communications is based on an online survey to 1,010 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over. The survey was conducted between March 1 and March 8, 2017 by Kelton Global using an email invitation and an online survey format. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and over. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
In addition to surveying consumers, West conducted a survey of more than 236 healthcare providers representing a variety of specialties and disciplines. The research was completed using an email invitation and an online survey format.
West’s Engagement Center Solutions help healthcare organizations effectively activate and engage patients and members, beyond the clinical setting, as they traverse the healthcare system. By providing innovative technology and creating strategic communications at key points across the care continuum, West’s Engagement Center enables healthcare providers to reduce costs, maximize revenue, improve quality and optimize the patient experience.
West Corporation is a global provider of communication and network infrastructure services. West helps its clients more effectively communicate, collaborate and connect with their audiences through a diverse portfolio of solutions that include unified communications services, safety services, interactive services, such as automated notifications, telecom services and specialized agent services. For 30 years, West has provided reliable, high-quality voice and data services. West has sales and operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America.