Two reports released in June reached the same consensus: the financial responsibility for patients continues to rise, and providers must account for this change.
A TransUnion study shows that in just one year (between 2014 and 2015), the patient payment responsibility has increased by 13 percent in both deductible and out-of-pocket costs.
If consumers are paying higher deductibles when they’re covered by insurance through their employers, and also paying more when they’re on their own, that highlights a consistent trend toward patient responsibility over provider responsibility in all contexts.
"It's clear that patients are becoming the new payer,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal for revenue cycle management at TransUnion Healthcare. “As hospitals navigate this new era of patient payments, we expect to see them provide more financing options to help patients meet their financial obligations."
Wilk also expects hospitals to have proactive financial discussions with patients, engaging with them about cost of care and their share of the responsibility earlier than before.
TransUnion's Key Stats
- As of Q1 2016, approximately 51% of patients owe more than $1000 to their healthcare providers. Nearly eight in 10 patients (77%) owe more than $500.
- Average out-of-pocket costs in 2015 are $3,470. (+13% year over year)
- Average deductibles have risen to $1,278. (+13% year over year)
Meanwhile, InstaMed also released its sixth annual Trends in Healthcare Payment report. Perhaps the largest takeaway is that 74 percent of providers report seeing an increase in patient responsibility for healthcare costs in 2015.
Information from these studies highlights the benefits of optimizing your patient collection process to make it more consumer-friendly. Consider these survey results that demonstrate the preference for accessible payment platforms:
InstaMed's Key Stats
- 70 percent of consumers stated that they preferred an electronic payment method
- 64 percent of consumers also expressed an interest in using a mobile payment system
- 47 percent of consumers will switch providers for the ability to understand cost upon scheduling and to easily understand and pay a bill using a preferred method.
The InstaMed survey also shows that providers, just like consumers, are in favor of transitioning from traditional payment models to electronic payments. According to the study, 84 percent of providers preferred to collect patients payments electronically.
The industry-wide changes reveal to providers the increasing need to focus more on the consumer experience and collecting consumer-directed payments. In today’s rapidly shifting landscape, providers need to rethink their traditional collections process. The easier it is for patients to understand what they’re going to pay, and to complete the payment, the easier it is for providers to collect without hassle, hang-ups or collections chasing.
If you’re interested in improving your collections process, check out our blog on collecting at the time of service, or download our guide featuring the best tips to accelerate patient payments.