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Patient Payment Responsibility Increases 11% in 2017

Patient Payment Responsibility Increases 11% in 2017

Rising out-of-pocket healthcare costs pose a challenge to patient access to care. When patients don’t believe they can afford a medical bill, they often go without needed care. In some cases, this can lead to higher healthcare costs down the road as the patient incurs increasingly complex medical issues.

According to a recent report from TransUnion Healthcare, patient financial responsibility increased by 11 percent in 2017, leading to a major upswing in out-of-pocket patient healthcare costs for the year.

Analysis from the report, released at the 2018 HIMSS Conference, revealed that patients experienced an 11% increase in average out-of-pocket costs during 2017, rising from $1,630 in Q4 2016 to $1,813 in Q4 2017.

The analysis also revealed that in 2017, on average, 49% of patient out-of-pocket costs per healthcare visit were below $500; 39% were $501-$1,000; and 12% were more than $1,000.

“Increasing healthcare costs and patient responsibility is a continuing trend that does not seem to be slowing anytime in the near future,” said Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare and author of  “Healthcare Revolution: The Patient Is the New Payer  which explores how the financing and delivery of healthcare has been impacted by major shifts in coverage, payments and legislation.

He went on to state, “Given the increased payment responsibility, being able to determine a patients’ ability to pay is increasingly important for hospitals. In order to allow patients to focus on getting the care they need; healthcare providers need processes and tools in place to help patients meet their financial obligations and to establish funding mechanisms that will benefit both the patient and provider.”

Many Americans not able to afford medical bills

According to a recent survey conducted by 20|20 Research in partnership with CarePayment, most Americans can’t afford their medical bills and many have no savings to pay for healthcare expenses and are being forced to delay care.

The survey also found that with the rise of high-deductible health plans, patients are growing weary of extraordinary healthcare costs that could negatively impact their personal finances.

Research highlights include:

  • 61% of patients have no money saved for their healthcare expenses
  • 64% of patients have forgone healthcare because they were concerned about healthcare prices
  • 25% said they neglected or delayed their follow-up care
  • 18% said they avoided a wellness visit with their primary care provider
  • 12% said they delayed a prescribed treatment or therapy after a surgery or procedure
  • 69% of those surveyed reported that their deductible was at least “somewhat difficult” to afford, with 22% reporting “very difficult” or “impossible.”

Healthcare organizations see their own set of challenges

When patients cannot pay their bills but still receive healthcare, the organization’s revenue cycle suffers. Some organizations are employing revenue cycle management technology to identify patients with financial barriers and refining patient payment programs.

To help their patients get needed care—and ensure they get paid what they are owed—many providers are partnering with companies to offer patient payment plans.

For participating providers, patient payment plans help improve cash flow and reduce the administrative costs associated with trying to collect from patients.

The rising cost of healthcare continues to be a source of stress for providers and patients. A patient payment plan provides an opportunity to shift the focus of the healthcare encounter back where it belongs—patient care.

Simple solutions to patient financing

With healthcare costs skyrocketing, an increase in competition from retail-store clinics, and higher deductible insurance programs, patients have embraced the concept of healthcare consumerism. They now have more options on how and where they spend their money, and they’re not afraid to flex their consumer muscle.

With Curae, you can give your patients a financial tool that empowers them, providing them the ability to afford the best healthcare, without the financial burden of large out-of-pocket expenses.

Here’s how it works:

  • Give patients the care they need, when they need it – Our program covers patients across a wide range of credit scores, without impact to their credit score.
  • Get up to 100% of patient pay responsibility within 48 hours – In most cases, our financing partner can provide funding to your practice within 2 business days of your patient’s service.
  • No more billing, processing or collecting for your practice – Our financing partner bills patients directly, freeing your staff to focus on care for your patients.

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