Healthcare benefits were renewed on January 1, 2023, leading to a reset in plan year deductibles. As deductibles reset, patients must pay out of pocket for significantly larger amounts of money to meet their financial obligations until the new year’s deductible is met. Collecting on resetting deductibles and other medical debt is a headache for patients and providers alike. Consumer medical debt may go unpaid and end up in collections for a host of reasons, but the CFPB cites a few of the most common causes: unexpected and emergency events, hidden costs, and complicated insurance and pricing rules.
For patients, the negative effects of large medical bills going to collections may be detrimental. Medical bills over $500 that go unpaid and end up in collections may result in a lower credit score, greater risk of bankruptcy, avoidance of medical treatment, and difficulty securing employment. On the other hand, unpaid bills can be a serious roadblock for healthcare leaders who need to improve their organization’s bottom line.
Successful medical bill collection—and a healthy bottom line—rests on an organization’s ability to consider many factors: economic context, technology, and patient engagement—specifically, patient financial engagement.
Accounting for the Current Economic Landscape
Studies show that the average American can’t afford a $300 medical expense. As of 2021, the average annual deductible has risen to a staggering $3,655. Approximately 1 in 4 Americans admit to avoiding medical care due to cost. Inflation has also hit the healthcare sector hard—the price of prescription drugs, inpatient hospital stays, and other medical treatments are expected to increase this year and next. Healthcare leaders expect that the projected inflation will make it even more difficult for families to afford care.
The Commonwealth Fund recently published a report which found that 29 percent of people with employer-based coverage were underinsured due to high out-of-pocket costs—even with insurance. The anticipated Medicaid cuts will likely lead to many Americans losing healthcare coverage.
As expected, inflation and other economic factors have pushed healthcare organizations to rethink how they approach collecting payments to improve the patient financial experience. To ensure efficient collection and patient financial engagement, healthcare leaders need to create more flexibility and diversity in their organization’s payment process.
After evaluating the economic context, healthcare leaders must use consumer-centric strategies like automated billing systems and health payment systems to boost patient engagement and ensure timely payment collection. Offering payment plans is a great start—they can alleviate the financial burden on patients, which improves patient engagement. As a result, there is a greater impact on the way patients engage with their providers long-term.
Effective Technology Driving Patient Financial Engagement Healthcare Solutions
Providers can create a more positive payment experience by employing effective payment technology. The best payment systems offer the opportunity for automation and are also tailored to be patient-centric. For instance, solutions that offer automated payment reminders can help patients stay up to date with what’s due, saving healthcare organizations time and resources while boosting patient engagement. Employing a health payment system that allows for payments on pre-service estimations is also a great way to enhance patient financial engagement along multiple stages of that patient’s healthcare journey.
The right payment solution should also help providers gain insights into hidden risks and how they can mitigate payment issues before they grow. A good payment solution should allow providers to track patient payments, record patient satisfaction, automatically post and reconcile to the proper accounts receivable or general ledger system, integrate with existing EHR/EMR systems, and seamlessly offer patients affordability options like loans, payment plans, financial counseling, and discounts.
Another benefit of choosing the right digital health payment solution is enhanced security and compliance. Procuring and maintaining devices, such as integrated P2PE credit card devices, is essential. Every payment transaction should be safe and secure. Compliance rules and regulations must be prioritized, no matter where payments are taken. With the increase in the number of work-from-home employees, workspaces should be secure and compliant to ensure best practices. Patients who feel secure are more likely to remain engaged in their care and financial obligations—leading to better outcomes for patients and a better bottom line for organizations.
Patient Engagement: Communication, Flexibility, and Responsibility
According to recent patient engagement data, a patient’s overall satisfaction is directly correlated to their financial experience. The answer to maintaining patient engagement and encouraging timely payment is flexibility. Evidence continuously proves that giving consumers choices can influence product choice and consumer happiness, regardless of price. Most patients want to resolve their healthcare bills, and patient-friendly, interest-free payment plans allow more patients to accomplish that.
Current trends in healthcare show that patients are now considered customers and patient engagement is more important than ever. A new wave of ultra-informed consumers has emerged as a result of COVID-19, accelerating the demand for an optimized, curated patient experience. Patients have a choice in where they go for medical care and they focus on factors like efficiency, financial transparency, technology, convenience, and privacy. Healthcare leaders can ensure organizations meet the new demand by focusing on the patient experience as a whole to encourage patient financial engagement and loyalty.
Patients deserve a seamless experience from the moment they research providers to weeks or months later when they pay their bills. Dealing with inefficient, non-patient-centric systems can be burdensome for patients and organizations. Patient-focused care can improve not only outcomes and patient financial engagement but also the patient’s quality of life.
One way to ensure patients are happy and engaged is to streamline and automate the bill payment process. Patients who are involved in their healthcare journey are more likely to be connected with their finances. Patients are more likely to give better patient satisfaction scores when they experience a seamless payment process and clearly understand their medical bills and the portion of the bill that is their obligation—leading to more revenue for healthcare organizations and improved patient financial engagement.
HealthPay24: Making Collections Easier for Patients and Providers
HealthPay24 has over 20 years of healthcare payment experience. Although technology has changed drastically over the past two decades, HealthPay24 remains dedicated to finding solutions for financial engagement challenges. You can bypass the above collection challenges by choosing HealthPay24’s patient payment platform.
- Flexibility. Make it easier for patients to pay with simple payment options and enhanced flexibility. HealthPay24’s patient payment platform can allow providers to offer discounts at every POS, which can boost patient payments by 90 percent. HealthPay24 technology also integrates with patient loans, flexible payment plans, pay-by-text, and IVR.
- Ease of Use. Optimize your patient payment experience by easily capturing payments as early as the pre-service estimation. HealthPay24 allows providers to take payments from anyone, from anywhere, and for anything involved with their healthcare experience. HealthPay24 also holds the highest standard of security and compliance so that providers can rest easy knowing all payments are safe and secure.
A Debt Collection Solution for Your Organization
HealthPay24 has been a leader in the healthcare sector for over twenty years. Our business is built on trust, dedication, and good, old-fashioned teamwork. Optimize your organization’s medical debt collection process by implementing HealthPay24’s innovative, comprehensive, digital-first patient financial engagement healthcare solutions. Visit HealthPay24 to learn more, or request a demo to join the growing number of providers using the HealthPay24 patient engagement solution.