November 26, 2014
The patient payment collections process has become more difficult due to the increase in healthcare plans with high deductibles. Failure to understand the emerging trend of high- deductible plans can have adverse effects on the revenue cycle of hospitals and physician practices. Since payment responsibilities have shifted to patients, managing patients with such plans has become a challenge for the providers in US.
According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, there has been a 15% growth per year in the number of people with health savings account / high deductible health plans. The number reached 15.5 million in 2013
According to the healthcare industry reports, around 20 million patients will join the healthcare system by the end of 2014 and out of which an alarming 80% of newly-insured patients will be at the risk for non-payment
How are healthcare providers coping with high-deductible health plans?
Did you know proliferation of high-deductible health plans is one of the main reasons many US hospitals are struggling with bed debt? Some local hospitals have started arranging loans to help patients sail though significant medical debt caused by co-payments and high insurance deductibles. The state of Ohio has started educating patients, making them aware of the particulars of their health plans.
Patients are being told about their responsibility to bear a significant portion of their healthcare costs. Many local hospitals are also using tools such as ‘patient liability calculators’ to inform the patients about the amount they will be required to pay before a medical procedure is performed.
Why today’s high-deductible is tomorrow’s bad debt?
Hospitals and private practices in the US are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act as it has expanded the number of Americans with health insurance. But on the downside, around 80% people signing up for private health coverage through government run marketplaces have chosen high-deductible health plans.
Patients with such plans are responsible for higher out-of-pocket payments going up to $6,350 a year for individuals and around $12,700 for families having similar healthcare exchange plans. This means such patients can be quite risky for small physician practices.
Small or solo practices already struggling with slow reimbursements from payers are the worst hit from the high-deductible plans. Since patients with these plans have a lower propensity to pay, not being able to collect full payment can affect the cash flow of private practices.
How to make it easy for patients to pay?
Doctors need to start calculating a patient’s financial responsibility and remain proactive about it. The front-desk staff needs to be trained to talk to the patients about healthcare costs while scheduling an appointment. They should be trained in communicating the upfront payments. It also helps to have a comprehensive financial policy when handling patients with high-deductible plans.
Has patient payment collection become a challenge for your practice? If yes, effective revenue generation and collection solutions by MedicalBillersandCoders.com can help you sail through the payment challenges. We have a team of skilled professionals who can also help you reduce AR days, maximize revenue and minimize claims denials.