Most patients can afford to pay at least a portion of their medical bills. It’s just a matter of whether or not their provider gives them healthcare payment options that work within their budget.
Although healthcare costs have risen over the years, medical treatment should still be accessible from both a clinical and financial standpoint. Since 2015, patients have experienced a 29 percent increase in deductible costs, according to a 2017 Revenue Cycle Management survey. Health Systems are beginning to recognize that patients are the new payers. This means that expanding healthcare payment options for patients should be a priority.
Additionally, between heightened deductibles, confusing billing statements and limited payment options, many Americans avoid or postpone treatment altogether. In fact, nearly 30 percent of adults have delayed medical treatment due to cost and of those, 63 percent described the untreated condition as serious according to research from Gallup. To address this critical issue, the industry’s approach to healthcare billing and payments must change.
According to the Patientco Data Team’s research, many Americans are willing to pay their medical bills – they just need more options to do so. For bills with balances between $1,000 and $2,000, patients making partial payments outnumber those who pay-in-full by 50 percent. That percentage grows to more than 200 percent for balances exceeding $2,000.
So, what can Health Systems do to ensure a simple and convenient payment process that promotes increased payments for those willing but not able?
Expand Healthcare Payment & Financing Options for Patients
To start, offer user-friendly online payment options and enable stored payment methods. This helps eliminate friction in the healthcare payments process. For scheduled, non-emergent care, consider offering a pre-approved financing plan. Consumers are familiar with this concept. Purchasing a car, house or even a large appliance typically involves a payment plan. Most consumers cannot afford to pay in full for such high-dollar items.
Why wouldn’t the same approach work for medical treatment?
Consider the Value of Self-Service Healthcare Payment Options
To engage patients with the right financing options without burdening revenue cycle staff, Health Systems can leverage a self-service web portal. In the portal, patients can review available financing options and enroll in a tailored payment plan. This helps drive payments for the Health System and makes healthcare affordable for more patients. Furthermore, this self-service approach reduces the volume of billing-related calls for staff.
Offering more payment options and flexible financing plans also ensures a better patient experience. Health Systems will see greater patient loyalty as patients recommend healthcare organizations to their friends and family members. This promotes increased patient volume and patient payments, essentially multiplying opportunities for revenue growth.
Now is the time to ask your Health System, what are you doing to ensure healthcare is financially accessible for your patients?
To learn more about this topic, check out our latest article in HFMA.