10 million consumers were in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) in 2010. Less than ten years later, 75 million are enrolled in these plans, a 650% increase. For you, this poses a challenge because patients usually ending up paying more out of their pocket for your services.
Deductible changes challenge patients and providers. Patients because they might not understand why their deductible went from $3,000 to $5,000 in one year or realize they also have a separate out-of-network deductible. When patients are frustrated and confused, they are less likely to pay you. Also, because of the increase, they might be unprepared and unable to pay when they receive their bill.
This causes a strain in patient-provider relationships and means cash flow and collection issues for you.
Consider these three actions to help ensure the efficient collection of payments:
Clearly Communicate Patient Responsibilities: A recent study revealed that 92% of consumers want to know their payment before a provider visit. Providers can offer patients an estimate of the amount of the bill prior to treatment. This is also a good time to explain all the payment options your office offers.
Make it Easy to Pay: Offering multiple payment channels is the best way to do this. Options could include cash, credit-debit cards, automated payments, and online or over the phone payments. Options increase the chances of getting bills paid and satisfy patients by allowing them to pay via the method they prefer. When patients can pay in the way that best suits them, it makes them more likely to pay. Contact your merchant processor to determine if they can also streamline alternate online payment methods such as PayPal, Google Wallet, MobilePay, etc.
Automate Payments: By securing a payment method, providers can help patients pay down balances with less staff intervention. Providers should communicate expectations and set up automated payment plan policies that include minimum payments and the end date. The automated payment can also be leveraged to collect smaller claims balances. This offers convenience for the patients and guaranteed payment for the provider. Automatic payment plans (and payment plans in general) must be monitored for declined and missed payments.