A new study from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) – “Self Pay and the Benefits of Prospective PatientEngagement” – finds that more patients are paying healthcare providers themselves. The study shows that self-pay has “increased by 10 percent during the last five years,” as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have become more common.
HFMA highlights the following findings from the study’s respondents:
payment is rising, with hospitals seeing a 10% increase in self-pay dollars
during the past five years.
hospitals have mandatory pre- or point-of-service collections processes for
outpatient services, with that number rising from 9% of hospitals in 2009 to
32% in 2015.
20% of respondents indicated “high capabilities for pricing and patient
education related to billing and administrative expectations,” showing there’s
plenty of room for hospitals to educate patients more about this topic.
17% of respondents indicated “high capabilities for pre-service automation,
forecasting, and prioritizing financially eligible patient accounts."
it comes to engaging patients about paying for their health care, respondents
rated pre-service pricing as the most important priority.
- When it comes to engaging patients about paying for their health care, respondents rated pre-service pricing as the most important priority.
In addition to highlighting the impact of changing self-pay
practices on healthcare providers, the HFMA study also notes that the recent rise
of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) makes payment more challenging for some
patients. The study highlights that 25% of adults with health insurance still aren’t
sure if they can afford to pay for major medical expenses. This is especially
true for adults with HDHPs, and such individuals are “more likely to think about
costs when making healthcare decisions” and “are especially likely to worry
about the effects of healthcare costs of personal finances.”
The concern about patients having the ability to pay their medical expenses affects healthcare providers as well. HFMA points out that “Medicaid expansion, HDHP trends, and healthcare provider organizations’ adoption of improved charity care identification processes and pre- and point-of-care financial discussions are likely to impact future trends in bad debt,” and that today “the rate of bad debt is increasing at well over 30% per year” in some hospitals.
This HFMA study points various ways that the relationship
between patients and their medical expenses is changing due to the increased
prevalence of HDHPs. Communicating with patients is key – both about the
expenses associated with a medical procedure and the expectations about how and
when patients should pay for their care.
patient-friendly communications and consistent messaging.
patients access to payment estimates at or before time of care.
with patients early about issues and options when it comes to paying the bill.
patients have access to financial counseling.
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