It’s that time of year again: students are walking across stages dressed in caps and gowns, ready to take on new professional challenges. Whether these new graduate jobs that provide insurance benefits, or they purchase their own insurance on new exchanges, these young people face challenges navigating the healthcare system. There is also a change for healthcare providers: are you ready to communicate clearly and effectively with these patients to avoid negative impacts on your revenue cycle?
With increasing costs and changing policies, managing one’s healthcare can be difficult for even the most seasoned adults, let alone young professionals:
- In the last 10 years, the average premium for individual insurance coverage has increased dramatically, with the average cost now $5,884.
- In 2013, there was a 78 percent increase of covered workers enrolled in a plan with a general annual deductible. Additionally, more than 58 percent of workers covered at small firms (3-199 employees) had a deductible of $1,000 or more.
- Millions of additional people are securing insurance on the new exchanges, often with higher-than-average deductibles as compared to common workplace-type plans. As of July 2014, approximately 10 million newly insured patients have entered the healthcare system as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a third of which are ages 34 and younger.
Impact on Healthcare Facilities
High deductible plans appeal to employers and individuals with limited incomes, such as students and young professionals. These plans have patients paying more out of pocket expenses for healthcare services. As a result, fewer people seek treatment because they cannot afford the upfront cost, thereby decreasing hospital revenue from services rendered. Because their medical needs are not being addressed, these patients may find themselves in urgent care. However, many are still unable to cover the costs of their emergency room visit, making collections difficult.
Furthermore, as more Americans secure insurance through new programs there is increased pressure on healthcare facilities to collect from more individuals with high deductible plans. Many of these facilities worry that while more individuals are able to purchase insurance, they may not be able to afford the high deductibles associated with their plans. This would lead to a growing percentage of bad debt and force the facilities to send more patients to collections.
Old billing methods are proving ineffective at turning self-pay collection challenges into financial opportunities. New solutions are needed, with communications strategies that fit the patient. Apex applies a proactive, high-touch approach that delivers the right message at the right place at the right time, encouraging patients to pay their way. To do this, Apex uses its messaging expertise and industry-leading payment solutions to help providers increase collection yield and decrease statement costs.
This is accomplished by applying “flexible logic” in the production of statements, so that patient-relevant messages about payments plans, other payment options, and online billing and payment portals are most likely to have an impact. In addition to taking into account the age of the patient’s balance, the healthcare provider can optimize statements based on factors such as: services rendered, payment history, previous payment methods, propensity to pay, available assistance (Medicare, Medicaid), ZIP code, and other demographic information.