By Patrick Creagh, Marketing Specialist
Tax season is in full swing. As millions gather their financial information in hopes of maximizing their refunds, they may find that doing their taxes takes longer than usual, due to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, which require individuals to report information about their health coverage and medical expenses. While this is not the first incentive we’ve been given to track our medical bills, taxes are universal (in the US) and taxpayers risk penalties or smaller refunds if they cannot locate their receipts.
One Medical Event, Several Medical Bills
Unlike most bills we pay, medical bills are generally unpredictable, not just in price but in receiving them in the first place. When a patient is admitted to a hospital, he or she is not consulted before each charge occurs. Nor is he or she told which entity is providing which particular service and whether or not that service is covered by his or her insurance plan. On paper this sounds crazy, but if you go in to have a procedure, planned or emergency, the surgeons and nurses can’t be expected to list off prices or memorize your coverage, especially if you are unconscious.
For example, with a normal birth nowadays, patients can expect to receive anywhere from 3-7 separate bills from different entities within the hospital. Even if the care is mostly covered by insurance, each bill typically includes some out of pocket costs in the form of co-pays or deductibles. And (here’s where it gets really confusing) each must be paid through each entity’s billing system separately.
Unless you keep your statements in a shoebox, you’ll have to track down each bill separately when tax season rolls around.
Visibility Meets Convenience
At Patientco, we envision a world where a patient can locate, manage, and pay all of his or her medical bills from a single platform. We call this platform PatientWallet, and all over the country patients are already able to use PatientWallet to consolidate and pay their medical bills. In Charleston, South Carolina for instance, a patient who visits several different providers throughout his or her episode of care can pull up each bill in seconds from one secure portal. With payment info stored securely, that patient can pay several bills in a matter of minutes.
Just as tax preparation software programs allow people to breeze through the paperwork required by the IRS to file their taxes, platforms like Patientco allow patients the same level of visibility and convenience. Patients can log in and pull up copies of every transaction in the platform without the stress of digging through a shoebox of receipts.
As you do your taxes this year, keep track of how long it takes to locate all of your medical expenses and where you have to look for them. Did you save paper invoices or did you pay online? If you received an e-receipt, do you know what to search for in your inbox? These are questions I found myself asking as I did my return. My hope is that next year, I’ll only have to look in one place.