It used to be something patients thought very little to nothing about. A visit to the doctor was routine, and if there was a $10 or $20 copay at the end, that seemed like a reasonable tradeoff for the services rendered. For many, lower co-pays are no longer the reality. A recent TransUnion Healthcare survey noted that patients experienced an 11% increase in average out-of-pocket costs in healthcare from 2016 to 2017. Breaking that down even further, 39% of out-of-pocket costs for a single healthcare visit totaled between $500 – $1,000, and 12% over $1,000. With statistics like these, it’s no mystery why many patients are holding off on procedures with a high patient cost, or not following through with them at all.
Not All Healthcare Service Co-Pays Are Created Equal
In the aforementioned survey, medical specialties in the over $1,000 tier with the highest estimates for patient out-of-pocket expenses included Orthopedics ($1,663), Plastic Surgery ($1,566), Urology ($1,415), and Neurology ($1,241). It is largely within these specialty areas that patients are feeling a brunt of the pain. Some estimate that surgery centers may be seeing as much as a 30% decline in scheduled procedures as a result of the significant increases in patient costs. Providers must come up with creative solutions to avoid seeing a decrease in their overall revenue.
Collection Efforts Become A Headache
Nobody in the health provider world wants to be in the collections business. The time and resource investment required to track down unpaid bills from patients is not only costly and often inefficient but can create obvious friction in your patient/provider relationships. To be most successful, you should focus on doing what you do best, and find a partner to handle the financial side of the relationship. This division of services can allow you to maintain some distance from the monetary aspects, without ignoring what’s clearly a significant and growing problem for your patients.
The Future Is About Patient Experience
With rising patient costs, and more stress on healthcare providers like you to absorb financial changes within an environment that is changing dramatically in other ways, looking at what patients’ consider to be important will be critical. In a recent Black Book survey released late last year, the three patient payment features that were most important to patients included managing expectations through insurance eligibility (something many providers have shied away from in the past), better cost estimation, and more convenient payment mechanisms. One could argue that the latter trend is already well underway, with an increasing number of providers offering the ability to pay online. However, it’s clear that healthcare providers need to enhance and streamline communication with patients, improve the accuracy of estimating, and particularly for the rising millennial generation, be more transparent from end-to-end in the process.
Looking for better payment and funding options for your patients? Curae can help. A simple solution to high patient expenses, Curae can provide up to 100% of patient cost responsibility within 48 hours, eliminating the need for billing, processing or collection from your practice. Learn more today about how to get started.