Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Patients want financial info before treatment

Facilities may need to take a second look at their policies on patient payment. Here’s why: According to a new survey, there’s a significant gap between what patients want regarding payment and financial options for their treatment, and what hospitals are providing. 

The survey was conducted by HealthFirst Financial, a lender that offers various medical financing plans to facilities and patients.

Per the survey, over three-quarters (77%) of patients said it’s important or very important to know the costs of services before treatment, and half want to discuss financing plans before receiving care.

Despite this strong desire from patients, most providers aren’t having conversations about payment.

Of the 1,0111 U.S. adults surveyed, only 18% said any of their healthcare providers have discussed financing options with them in the past two years.

Walking out

With rising healthcare costs and uncertainty surrounding insurance, including the Affordable Care Act, more patients said they’re willing to switch to providers that offer low-interest financing plans for medical bills.

Almost 30% of those surveyed said attractive payment plans would motivate them to change providers, and that number jumps to 40% within the Millennial age range (18-36 years old).

Consumers specifically want affordable payment programs with no interest charges. In fact, 57% said having no interest was very important to them.

Despite this, only 8% got low-interest financing from their providers.

“Providers that care for the financial as well as clinical needs of their communities are much more likely to thrive in this era of rising out-of-pocket costs and growing competition for patients among traditional and non-traditional providers,” said KaLynn Gates, president and corporate counsel of HealthFirst Financial.

Plus, paying attention to your patients’ financial concerns and helping them figure out ways to pay for their care increases patient loyalty to your facility.

Universal concerns

Regardless of income, patients are worried about their ability to cover medical costs. Forty-two percent of people surveyed said they were very concerned or concerned about paying out-of-pocket medical bills in the next two years.

That number rises to 54% with patients who make less than $35,000 per year.

Consumers also want to know what they’ll be paying before their treatment begins. A majority of those surveyed (77%) said it’s important for providers to tell patients the cost of a procedure before it happens, and 63% want published pricing lists for common procedures.

Provider impact

Communicating about costs and bills is essential to your bottom line. Unpaid patient bills are having a significant impact on hospitals and other healthcare providers, especially considering that individuals are the third-largest source of payments to providers after Medicare and Medicaid.

Discussing payment plans and making sure patients know their options for paying their balances means less stress for both patients and providers.

Patients want to have these conversations, so being transparent about pricing and making sure there’s a plan in place to finance treatment can lead to fewer missed payments and better patient outcomes down the line.

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