“The current patient financing options offered today are akin to a modern-day Loan Shark”.
The concerns of patients avoiding care due to financial constraints continue to mount. This is evident as patient volumes are down across the United States for many hospitals and healthcare providers. With self-funded and high-deductible insurance plans here to stay, patients need to pay more out-of-pocket expenses, and most are struggling with this expense. The financial burden of paying for medical care is real and is changing how patients utilize the medical services they need.
Patients avoid getting the care they need
To highlight the severity of the issue, a startling 50% of patients are unable to pay a $500 emergency room bill according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). As a result, many do not pay their bills and patient debt continues to rapidly increase. Last year reported an overwhelming 58% of past-due balances in collections were from outstanding medical bills.
Even with the new No Surprises Act which protects patients with unplanned expenses, the fact remains that patients are not paying their bills, and healthcare providers need to deploy new financial solutions to increase the effectiveness of patient collection efforts.
Hospitals and healthcare providers shouldn’t operate like a bank
While there is no cure-all patient collection solution, HiLitePay does offer an alternative.… One method that is increasing in popularity is to spread the balance owed by the patient over the course of a few months or even longer until the balance is fully paid. Although this is a generous option provided by the healthcare provider, it is often taken for granted and payments are often missed or go into default. Extending internal payment plans to patients can cause issues with cash flow and create an additional burden on overhead to manage the collections process for extended periods of time.
Internal payment plans used to be a sound approach, but with increased volume as well as the time to manage this manual offer, it is no longer an effective collections process. What was considered a good faith offer, now exposes many hospitals and healthcare providers to handling a financial challenge that they are not necessarily equipped to handle nor familiar with the changing collections laws. A healthcare organization is better served by choosing a financing partner that offers an automated solution that reminds and collects balances at each communication and offers a financing option to lessen the burden on their patients. This allows a practice to focus on managing their patient’s health while partnering with a full-service company such as HiLitePay that manages their patient’s financial health. When patients have financing options, this generally removes the barriers to timely care.
Patients are acting more like healthcare consumers
HiLitePay’s solutions can help healthcare organizations increase access to care, lower patient accounts receivable, reduce staff overhead and enhance the financial experience for patients. Patients are now more informed consumers and before they seek treatment, they evaluate these expenses with a critical eye to ensure the medical services they are getting are worth the investment for their health.
“Today’s patient consumer fears debt just as much as their ailing health conditions and balancing health vs. debt is a fear that many people spend long nights thinking about. Factor this with mounting living expenses like utilities, groceries, and home costs, and we are a society living paycheck to paycheck.” said CEO of HiLitePay, Bryan Graven.
Three in ten Americans have cited cost-related care access problems, according to a study from West Health. This means that patients who need healthcare services are avoiding them due to the financial hardships they face with paying for them. To further back up Mr. Graven’s point, a Bankrate report found 37 percent of patients reported they would rather skip treatment if they didn’t have the funds and their healthcare provider did not offer a patient financing program.
Because many employers do not offer insurance plans that are of the traditional copay model, the healthcare selection process has become similar to other consumer-driven industries. Patients are researching providers online and looking into the terms associated with treatment before making their selection. By adopting a patient-focused financial program that helps patients fund their care, healthcare providers can see patient volumes increase by serving more diverse patient financial demographics that help the community at large and ultimately reduces the cost of the overall healthcare system.
“Helping a patient’s financial health needs to be a compassionate strategy for hospitals and clinics as much as providing a great treatment experience. As practitioners, we all believe in some form of the Hippocratic Oath as healers and remember that the art of medicine reaches beyond our ability to provide treatment. We need to look at the well-being of each other and understand that when a patient leaves our care, there are matters that can impede a patient’s life related to the treatment provided. A patient-friendly financing program helps create this balance and gives me peace of mind,” said Dr. Chavey of Emmas Health Partners. “Furthermore, patients that have a positive financial experience will return for the treatment they need in the future and refer others.”
Mr. Graven shared that, “The current patient financing options offered today are akin to a modern-day Loan Shark,”. “Between high-interest credit cards and one-dimensional lending programs, they are putting patients in debt. Healthcare providers need to look at programs that help patients of all financial situations and trustworthy options that will help, no matter what the patient’s financial situation is.”
An alternative solution
Mr. Graven mentioned how HiLitePay is different than other financing options and better serves their communities. “At HiLitePay, we offer a patient financing platform that connects patients with multiple lenders. When a patient is looking for help to finance their treatment, we provide a simple application process that can be completed online, even with a mobile device. Depending on the patient financial needs, we provide the best lending option for the patient’s financial situation. The patient receives several offers to choose from and the healthcare provider has the peace of mind of knowing the patient’s financial health is valued. Because there are multiple lenders in the patient financing platform, patients get excellent rates, terms, and options to pay for treatment. Furthermore, no patient gets left behind with HiLitePay lenders who provide high approval rates, including those with subprime or no credit.”
Mr. Graven continued. “The Healthcare provider benefits from HiLitePay with excellent merchant fees (similar to a credit card transaction) and transparency with a dashboard to track all patients who are looking to finance their treatment. Patients can call our onshore HiLitePay customer service team, who can walk the patient through the process. Easy and effective, the HiLitePay patient financing solution provides a balanced approach that helps both the patient and the healthcare provider. By having a patient financing solution like HiLitePay, Healthcare providers can extend their pledge with their Hippocratic Oath to patient financial care.”