Across America, healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Employers are often shifting to consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) in an effort to battle the inflated prices. CDHP plans have high deductibles and the employee is faced with even greater payment responsibility. Unfortunately, many patients can’t or won’t pay for insurance and healthcare without their employer’s subsidies. Recent research has revealed that individuals, regardless of income level, will pay their mortgages, utilities, car payments, and other monthly services before they will pay their healthcare bills. Such a trend is becoming a serious problem for providers and leaves them scrambling for ways to offset the self-pay trend.
Here is a list of ways that hospitals can increase self-pay collections while building avenues of communication:
- Charity Screening: Always screen for public benefit or charity eligibility if a patient is faced with self-pay. Charity screening should always be done at pre-registration. It should immediately be determined if a patient will require financial assistance or be able to self-pay. If financial assistance is a reality then public benefit and charity eligibility will need to be determined. It has been determined that as much as 31 percent of revenue that was written off by the hospital as bad debt could have been eligible for public or charity benefit payouts.
- Eligibility: Hospital staff should always verify the patient’s eligibility, this is especially beneficial with Medicare billing. Correct collected information gathered at admittance is the key to successful billing.
- Communication: The lines of communication need to be opened with the patient about the patients’ financial obligations. Deposits should be collected and future payment plans outlined with a one-on-one with the patient. Most patients want to pay their bills and appreciate positive communication to help resolve how to settle their share of the debt. Patients appreciate the opportunity to settle the account and reach a resolution that is satisfactory for both parties.
- E-Cashing Systems: E-cashing systems are a successful way to gather payments. Hospitals that utilize such programs have experienced collection increases and AR reductions.
- Estimates: Complete and credible estimates help satisfy patients by assisting them in better understanding their share of the financial responsibility.
- Double Check All Information: Insurance changes, especially with Medicare Advantage and Medicaid HMOs, have become a reality with billing. Double checking all information before submitting ultimately saves time and money.
- Make Billing Easy to Understand: Billing for the patient should be easy to understand. This means that statements must be deciphered by a patient without difficulty. Consolidating services such as lab, physician, and hospital are ideal for most patients. Also offering online bill pay is a successful option to increase a patient’s willingness to pay. Online payment plans can reduce costs not only for the hospital but also for the patient.
- Hire a Vendor: Experts recommend hiring a knowledgeable vendor with highly trained staff will dramatically improve collections.
All of the above suggestions are key in development and implementation of self-pay accounts. However, such processes are time-consuming and hospital administration and staff often cannot take the time to implement such changes. In such circumstances, an outsourcing group such as the Midland Group is ideal to create patient satisfaction and receive faster payment recovery for the hospital. Bringing in a trained and skilled vendor is often the best way that a hospital can guarantee that its revenue will increase during such difficult and changing times.
Please contact the professionals at the Midland Group to learn more about their services