How patient payments will change…and how you can prepare
On April 14, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to increase price transparency in healthcare. States such as Maryland and Washington have similar initiatives; in addition, New York and Connecticut are building consumer websites with healthcare cost information.
As price transparency becomes the norm, how should healthcare organizations prepare? Consider these four points:
1. Price transparency legislation sets a new standard for patients. In the past, receiving an unexpected medical bill (or a bill for an unexpectedly high amount) may have been acceptable. Patients are shouldering more of their care costs; therefore, they’re paying more attention to their medical bills. Consequently, they may have more questions regarding care costs, or they might be unwilling to pay a “surprise” bill.
2. Patients are newly empowered, but they’ll also have a lot of questions for you. Even though patients will be able to access price-related data, you’re still their care provider─and they trust you more than they trust a website. You’ll likely get more questions from patients, not fewer, because they’ll want your help and confirmation as they review data.
3. Not every patient wants to price shop. Modern Healthcare’s blog describes a set of patients who value convenience and expedience. They don’t want to compare pricing; their priority is getting a credible estimate, understanding their payment responsibility and moving forward as quickly as possible.
4. Change won’t happen overnight. In Florida, state officials plan to launch a website with healthcare information that will allow patients to compare pricing and make informed decisions about their care plans. This data is intricate and copious, and many insurers don’t want to share it. Making this data available and patient-friendly is no small feat. While pricing websites are in progress, physician practices and other healthcare organizations can help patients by providing price transparency. Let patients know what their care costs will be and discuss different options for payment.
Read Modern Healthcare’s article Florida Bill on Healthcare Transparency Headed to Governor, to learn more about Florida’s plan for price transparency. As you anticipate similar initiatives in your state, consider how your patient payment process can help patients better understand their payment responsibilities and put their trust in your organization.