Do these two words together bring a slow, sad shake of the head? After all, it’s January, the deductible-reset month, when patients everywhere begin paying out of pocket again on their way to meeting their (increasingly high) deductibles for 2013.
It’s no secret that those self pay dollars accumulating in A/R within hospitals and physician groups are difficult to collect. In fact, most organizations focus their efforts so heavily on collecting from insurance companies that they habitually leave self pay dollars on the table. How much? According to industry researchers, the yearly national average for uncollected self pay is 49.3 percent.
That said, when healthcare organizations begin to rethink self pay as a financial opportunity, rather than a burden, the uncollected self pay percentage can drop exponentially.
Consider the underlying reasons for the steady incline in self pay. Rising insurance costs have led many employers to offer HDLP plans (High Deductible Low Premium) to their employees. While this is a cost-effective move for the employer, the employee (really, the patient) jumps from a patient deductible that may have been a few hundred dollars to a new deductible of a few thousand. Add to this the thousands of individuals who are uninsured or underinsured, and what is the result? A few furrowed brows amongst A/R executives over the rising dollar figure associated with self pay and, particularly, its effect on the bottom line.
Healthcare organizations who respond to today’s changing self pay environment by developing a “best-practice” strategy for increasing self pay collections will not only enjoy enhanced overall profitability, but will also strengthen patient relations such that the viability of the entire organization is positively affected.
Thinking of self pay as an opportunity does require shifting to a new paradigm. Wondering where to start?