Can healthcare organizations make healthcare more affordable?
- Increased healthcare deductibles in 2014 may cause revenue cycle managers to encounter more patient payment collections problems according to a survey by patient loan program provider,ClearBalance. The survey indicates that 72 percent of respondents believe bad debt is linked to low or poor patient collections. This is easy to see, as the study indicates that on balances of $5,001-$6,350, only 36 percent of patients are likely to pay.
These respondents may be correct in this belief. In a previous, separate interview with RevCycleIntelligence.com, Brian Sanderson, the managing principal of Crowe Horwath’s healthcare services group, indicated that many organizations struggled to handle accounts receivable, bad debt, charge capture and denials.
“With consumers having more say in where they go, if you go in and have a bad experience, you are probably going to look at the place across the street where they maybe pay less and receive better service. That’s going to be the dynamic on revenue cycle with a focus on patient satisfaction and self pay interaction that [healthcare providers] haven’t seen before.” Sanderson said.
The best way to address these struggles, according to the survey, is for healthcare organizations to focus on making healthcare more affordable. But how are organizations living up to the challenge?
A practice has multiple options to make healthcare more affordable for their patients. The survey indicates the following methods to solve the problem:
- Update payment policy
- Stratify patient population
- Augment payment options with a zero-interest revolving line of credit
Healthcare organizations could review their payment policies, taking into account government regulations and guidelines that affect medical debt collection and credit reporting.
The Affordable Care Act is a big regulation that organizations should take into account when putting a new policy in place. Practices should consider their payment policy from their patient’s point of view, as this regulation has presented patients with more healthcare options. An updated payment policy may lead to patients being more likely to pay more if it is presented amiably.
If a practice better understands its mix of patients and can identify those who are willing but unable to pay their healthcare bill in a single payment or who are able but unwilling to pay, then a practice can implement the best payment option plan.
“Regardless of income level, a patient’s propensity to pay any portion of his or her healthcare cost decreases as his or her financial obligation increases, according to the Advisory Board Company,” the survey states.
An updated payment plan should be easy for staff to offer to patients, while still meeting internal collection goals.