A new survey and study by Accenture, the global strategy, and consulting firm, shows that only about a quarter of healthcare providers are now able to provide out-of-pocket cost estimates for patients, even though 91% of patients want them.
The main takeaway from the study suggests providers shouldn’t be afraid of sharing cost estimate information.
With the increase in the overall concept of patient consumerism and the thought that patients may use this information to find a lower provider, it’s understandable to be concerned may lose patients. However, the study shows most patients aren’t using this information to shop around, but rather to better plan their budgets, and 60% of people who know their medical costs in advance choose to proceed with the service.
Conversely, if your medical practice is unable to provide your patients with the ability to predict costs, you become very vulnerable, as 47% would consider switching providers in order to better understand their out-of-pocket cost responsibility at the time of scheduling.
Among the insights:
• 46% of patients need up-front cost information for budget planning purposes
• 41% are concerned about their ability to pay. This concern is highest among uninsured (61%) and Medicaid (59%) segments.
• 60% of patients who know their medical cost in advance proceed with the service, while only 23% opt to delay care, rather than canceling or switching to a lower-cost provider.
• 47% would switch providers to understand the costs of services at the time of scheduling appointments.
By offering better financial education and support for all types of patients, providers could promote informed choices, encourage responsible budgeting, strengthen health consumer engagement and reinforce the patient/provider relationship, especially among younger demographics.
Why is knowing your out-of-pocket price estimate important to you?
Almost half of consumers say they require health care service price information to aid with budget planning.
The study also notes that only 11% use this information to shop for better deals. More price shopping was reported for routine services, such as dental (40%) and vision (35%).
Interesting to note, Gen X and younger consumers are more than three times as likely to price shop as older generations (17% vs. 5%), a trend likely to increase due to technological advances in medicine and as younger consumers are more open to using alternative methods.
What does this mean for your practice?
Efforts in providing price estimates for those who want them would increase patient engagement and satisfaction, rather than shift business away due to sticker shock, and may help improve collections and reduce bad debt in the long run.