By Patrick Creagh, Marketing Specialist
Patient payments are back in the news, again. Much was written last week about the pair of conflicting appeals court decisions regarding federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act and the implications of either decision. This past week, cuts to Medicare reimbursement made waves at the healthcare panel hearing at the House.
Both stories could develop in different ways but an underlying thread is becoming even more apparent: patients don’t understand medical billing and providers are increasingly worried about patient payments.
Patient financial engagement benefits providers, payers and most of all, the patients themselves. Are you doing everything you can to help them understand and pay their healthcare bills?
Here is a list of opportunities to educate patients about their financial obligations, divided into before, during and after care.
- Help them estimate out-of-pocket costs before they receive care.
- Walk them through the billing process using simple, concise language. Most patients struggle to understand the concepts of insurance, make it easy for them.
- Educate them on any charitable aid or financing you may offer. They may be eligible and unaware that aid is available.
- Instruct patients to notify their doctor if they are on a plan that may incur high out-of-pocket costs. While doctors have an obligation to provide the best care, they may be able to recommend generic prescriptions or other cost-effective treatment options.
- For inpatient visits, offer the opportunity to expedite the checkout process by paying bedside. With cloud-based payment automation, this is now possible.
- Have a roaming financial counselor to answer patient questions during treatment downtime. This is especially useful if additional or unexpected treatment is required.
- Collect a point-of-service payment, if possible, or set up an automated payment plan. This is your best and cheapest opportunity for receiving the patient’s payment.
- Send a clear, patient-friendly statement with multiple payment options. Some patients prefer to pay by phone, while some prefer to pay by mailing a check., and increasingly patients are demanding an online bill pay option.
- Offer HIPAA-compliant messaging through your online payment portal to resolve billing questions quickly and efficiently. Patients almost always have a question about a bill, make it easy to have a dialogue and you’ll see more success receiving the payment.
You and your patients deserve the mutual understanding of financial responsibilities during an episode of care, so use every opportunity you have to help your patients understand and pay.