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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the economy – and the healthcare industry itself – in ways that are likely to last long after the virus has been controlled. The many ripple effects of that disruption include worsening the often overwhelming financial burdens from medical treatment that today’s patients are already facing.
Unemployment has surged across the country, and millions of Americans have found themselves suddenly without insurance. At the same time, patients already have been dealing with a steadily growing portion of the financial responsibility for their care. A 2018 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that from 2006-2016, the average out-of-pocket costs for patients rose 54%. In that same time period, patient payments toward deductibles increased 176%.
The Patient’s Financial Burden Becomes the Provider’s
In a recent report from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Rick Gundling put the plight of today’s patients into stark relief.
“Many patients were challenged to meet their healthcare financial responsibilities prior to the arrival of COVID-19 due to high-deductible health plans, in addition to all their other financial obligations,” said Gundling, senior vice president of healthcare financial practices for HFMA. “Now, you add a nationwide pandemic, deep economic uncertainty, rapid job losses and a sudden decline in healthcare coverage into the mix, and a larger number of patients are overwhelmed, with some simply unable to meet their responsibilities.”
These significant struggles that so many patients are facing are having direct consequences on self-pay collections for hospitals and health systems. HFMA’s report indicated 88% of healthcare finance professionals surveyed said that COVID-19 has impacted their approach to patient collections in some way.
Embrace Compassionate Financial Advocacy
In order to give their patients the compassionate financial advocacy they need more than ever, many hospitals and health systems already have begun shifting to a more flexible approach to self-pay collections that prioritize an empathetic patient relationship. HFMA notes that changes include:
- Increased patient payment options
- Adjusted bad debt placement timing
- Delayed credit reporting
- Ramped up efforts to identify unemployed patients and patients who are under-insured or uninsured
MedData’s self-pay collections philosophy is one of patient education and compassionate customer service. MedData works with its client partners to help patients understand the post-clinical process by providing education on their statement, their balance, and their insurance options in a fast, respectful, and effective manner – which helps eliminate patient frustrations and increase the provider’s self-pay collections.
Download the white paper “Improve Patient Financial Advocacy Now & into the Future” to learn more about how to create a consumer-focused culture, one that emphasizes patient satisfaction and still persistently pursues collections, can streamline your revenue cycle process and ensure fast, full reimbursement.