Earlier this month, we talked about the impact of high health insurance deductibles on revenue collection and the importance of training staff to handle sensitive financial conversations with patients.

In a recent article, “15 things to know about hospital billing and patient payments,” Becker’s Hospital Report looked at this issue from a different perspective, adding even more weight to successful billing interactions.

Among its observations:

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans believe receiving a large, unaffordable medical bill is as bad as being diagnosed with a serious illness, and 10 percent believe a large medical bill is worse than a diagnosis, according to an Ipsos/Amino
  • In the same survey, 37 percent of Americans said they could not pay for an unexpected medical bill that exceeded $100 without going into debt, and only 23 percent would be able to cover an unexpected medical bill of more than $2,000.
  • Medical bills confuse most patients. According to a Mad*Pow report released in 2016, 60.5 percent of patients said the medical bills they received were either confusing or very confusing.

The Ipsos/Amino survey also noted a lack of understanding of potential costs among consumers. For example, the median network rate (what a patient and their insurance company would pay combined) to fix a broken arm in the United States is $1,100, yet many Americans estimate it costs less than $500. Only 7 percent of Americans estimated within the correct price range.

For revenue cycle leaders, those are a lot of walls to break down. And for affected staff, it can be hard to break through.

These reports provide an interesting, if foreboding, view of the issue. They’re worth a read – and, as indicated previously, appropriate action to assure staff effectively can educate, inform and communicate with such consumers.

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