Your patient is angry. Is it your fault? Part 1
A surgery patient receives a bill for an additional $70,000 because, while the hospital accepted her health plan, the surgeons did not. A tidbit not shared with her prior to the procedure.
Another receives an unanticipated bill for $117,000 from the assistant surgeon involved in his neck surgery, someone he had never been told about nor had he ever meet.
In a Consumer Reports survey designed to “gauge public sentiment” over expensive healthcare practices, 12% of respondents reported spending more than $5,000 of personal funds in the previous year, even though they had insurance.
While the above cases are extreme, many patients are angry, fearful and uneducated about their plans, coverage and financial responsibility. Feeling like they don’t know what to do or how to proceed can result in them being less likely to pay their bills and more likely to seek a different provider in the future.
Who's is at fault here? Or perhaps a better question is, who should take ownership of finding a solution to this problem? The argument that an angry patient still has a responsibility to settle his or her account is valid, of course. But the benefits of a solid self pay strategy centered on effective communication will go a long way in avoiding these types of occurrences.
In an environment where many patients still owe a sizable amount of money after their insurance carrier’s contribution, it’s becoming increasingly important for providers to develop a strategy that minimizes bad debt write-offs and the associated negative effects to their revenue cycles. One of the most significant parts of any self-pay strategy is communication—immediate and continuous communication. Keeping your patients engaged and informed about their charges and financial responsibilities from the beginning significantly improves your chances of avoiding bad debt writeoffs and getting the money that you’re owed.
In Part 2 of this series, we look at how patient education and patient-friendly statements can preempt confusion and anger from patients. Don't forget about your next steps—download our offer below to more positively impact your bottom line!