Like most people in preparation for our summer vacation, I have a number of one-time large bills and charges that have accumulated getting ready for our trip! And like most I bite the bullet and remit payments and pay my bills once they are due. However there is a large segment of bills that aren’t getting paid by most people (I do pay these on time as well assuming they are legit), and it’s those that are owed to medical groups and hospitals.
According to a report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, almost 43 million Americans have unpaid medical bills. The main cause for this is that many Americans are confused by the statements that they receive from their medical providers and insurance companies about the cost of treatment. Lack of transparency in their statements and understanding what they owe has put a lot of people in a tough situation.
Medical groups and hospitals too are feeling the pain. In fact one of our large radiology groups has seen a 23 percent increase in year-over-year growth in patient accounts receivables representing millions of dollars. The average overdue debt that a patient owes is growing across the all of healthcare and the most baffling thing is that most of these patients show no signs of other financial stress. So what does this mean for medical groups and hospitals? Most patients who owe money have the means to pay but don’t, because of their lack of understanding about what they really owe.
Here are three easy fixes medical groups and hospitals can make to help patients pay their bills, and pay them faster.
1. Integrate bill payment into your process. Medical groups and hospitals today should have one place where they can go to get a full picture of a patient’s payment history and not have to switch between multiple applications.
2. Simplify your statements. Make it easy for patients to understand what your charges are, what insurance has paid by providing a statement that matches up to the patient’s Explanation of Benefits (EOB), and most importantly what they still owe. With this information they are much more likely to remit payment quickly or start a conversation with you so that you can resolve any outstanding issues.
3. Ditch paper billing. It’s 2019 and according to the USPS more than 60% of Americans across all demographics are paying their bills online. According to Cain, “Only 17% of consumers receive a medical bill electronically, despite over 70% preferring electronic statements. “ Online bills get paid faster and you can create your online statements to match the EOBs. If the majority of patients want to pay their bills online…let them!
With deductibles growing every day, medical groups and hospitals will continue to collect a significant amount of their revenue directly from patients…on average for the first five months of the year. It’s time to help patients pay their bills and practices collect what they’re owed.