What Is the Relationship Between Patient Financial Responsibility & Health Outcomes?
Patient financial responsibility (PFR for short) has changed a lot in the last decade. Price transparency is becoming more of a standard practice and surprise bills are a loyalty-killer as patients take on more of their healthcare costs. But these changes aren’t coming quick enough and aren’t as robust as they need to be in order to alleviate the anxiety and stress that comes with making patient payments.
So that leads to one question: How does patient financial responsibility relate to health outcomes? Unfortunately, they work symbiotically more than you’d think.
Patient Financial Responsibility and Health Outcomes Today
In its current state, the United States is at a strange point in time. Normally, American patients feel the stress of high healthcare costs and their financial responsibility and prior to the pandemic, 14% of consumers struggled with PFR. Now, coronavirus has exacerbated that stress. Contracting the virus can be detrimental for patients, causing time off work and lost income, plus costs that could be associated with treatment, even though providers are trying to lift that burden.
That’s why some patients are inclined to put off their health issues in an effort to save money. This happened (along with the temporary halt on elective procedures) a lot early during the coronavirus pandemic, and it resulted in low health outcomes for patients, especially those who are immune compromised. As the pandemic marches on, this continues to be a concern since insurers’ coverage of certain aspects of COVID-19 care are expiring.
On another side of this, patients are turned off by healthcare because the process isn’t easy, including costs and how to pay for it. Half of patients avoid healthcare because of it and 74% would be willing to pay $50 to know the cost of their visit.
What You Can Do
While PFR is a complicated issue that won’t be fixed overnight, providers can help make things easier for patients so that they’re willing to take charge of their health outcomes.
Offer Payment Options
While it would be great if they could, many patients can’t pay their healthcare bill in full all at once. In fact, just over 50% of consumers with employer-sponsored insurance can afford a $500 healthcare bill. That’s why patients need options with flexible payment plans and options. Patients pay their bill over time and providers collect more patient payments without having to spend on collection costs.
Push for Transparency
While price transparency is becoming the law, go beyond what’s required. Make it as easy as possible to find average costs of procedures on your website, what payment options are available and contact information for your billing department. When a patient receives a bill, their costs should be laid out individually to avoid confusion or overcharges. These can be easy to list online within a digital health platform like the PatientBond Digital Health Platform.
Think Outside the Box
Providers know that not all patients are motivated to take charge of their healthcare. That’s why PatientBond uses psychographic segmentation to motivate patients to make payments and appointments to improve their health outcomes. By narrowing in on a patient’s personalities, values and attitudes, PatientBond can create messaging based on a patient’s segment. It not only encourages them to improve their health outcomes, but it also allows providers to increase their market share and patient payments.
When your center’s PFR is hurting, your patient’s health outcomes do too. By addressing these concerns, you can increase patient payments.