Since the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the rise of high-deductible health plans has shown no sign of stopping. As patients increasingly purchase low-cost, high-deductible coverage from their national or state healthcare exchanges, practices have had to face the issue head on – deciding up front which plans to accept, which to turn away, and how to handle the overall impact on patient relations.
The bright side: 17 million more Americans are insured now than were pre-ACA, meaning your potential patient base is larger than ever. But due to the higher costs they face, high-deductible patients are far less likely than employer-covered ones to actually pursue care, follow through on treatment plans, and return for follow-up visits.
As such, it’s vital for your practice to take a proactive approach to patient awareness and education in order to seize your share of the newly-covered-patient market without hurting your income. Here are some of our recommendations as a medical billing company to help you embrace the high-deductible reality.
Embrace Price Transparency
Patients who fear the fallout of their deductibles are quick to say “no” to treatment plans or procedures they think will be costly – and it’s hard to blame them. Mitigate that issue by being as straightforward and direct about your pricing as possible, and by offering patients several different options for their care that will help them feel more in charge of the decision-making process.
And be prepared for price shopping! In the new patient-centered healthcare landscape, many practices are putting their rate card prices online to embrace cost-conscious consumers. If you want to be in the running for those price-aware patients, you’d be wise to do the same.
Be a Beacon of Preventive Care
Over the long-term, patients benefit the most from taking a proactive approach to their own healthcare. Preventive care visits, regular check-ups, tests, and the like are hugely important, but patients who have traditionally been uninsured are less apt to pursue those avenues.
Stress the importance of regular care with your high-deductible patients. Keep an eye out for cancellations and follow up with patients who seem to be dodging preventive opportunities out of financial fear. When you encounter resistance, point out that most ACA plans cover preventive services – including cancer screenings, diabetes testing, and childhood immunizations – regardless of the deductible.
Consider Discounts and Payment Plans
Patients who are on the hook for a huge percentage of their financial responsibility may be more likely to ignore their healthcare bills for as long as possible. But sending patients to collections rarely works, and depending on the fees charged by a collections agency that route may end up hurting your bottom line.
Be open to offering discounts and payment plans to patients who ask for them, and consider whether it may be reasonable to offer them those options up front instead of just sending them a large bill and seeing what happens. Avoiding the sticker shock of a huge bill can help patients follow through on their financial obligations in a more timely manner.
...and if you need help from a medical billing service...