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For More Revenue and Less Grief, Try Charging Less

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 1, 2012

Many hospitals and health systems are struggling to meet their missions with lower revenue and they're prepping for even steeper cuts. The logical conclusion many senior leaders seem to be coming to is that they need to make every effort, up to and including suing their patients, to recover unpaid balances. 

These balances, in many cases, are as much as twice as high as what would have been paid on behalf of this group of "self-pay" patients if they had been properly enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid or a commercial insurance plan. The challenges that cause these aggressive, and sometimes illegal, collection tactics are numerous, but the most aggravating thing about them is that there's just not much revenue at stake, on a relative basis.

So hospitals end up not getting little or nothing in revenue, as they already were, but they're actually getting less than nothing as word gets out about these aggressive tactics. Especially for nonprofits, it's a dangerous game.

It appears many CEOs have forgotten the lessons of eight years ago. They should have learned that their leadership position can easily be undermined when these strong-arm tactics come to light. So why does this continue to happen? I'm not naïve. They see a shrinking margin and no apparent way to resolve it.

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2 comments on "For More Revenue and Less Grief, Try Charging Less"


CFO (6/4/2012 at 10:19 AM)
I agree that it isn't only the uninsured; however, if there were more regulations put on insurance companies,what they can change and what they can roll to the patient it wouldn't be so insane for the patient to pay the correct portion. With increasing deductibles, co-insurance and premiums the charges continue to rise and the payments continue to decrease. I believe where the boat is being missed is in the Health Insurance field and the ability for people to obtain reasonable helath insurance for a reasonable price.

A doctor (6/1/2012 at 4:40 PM)
You totally and completely missed the point of this issue. It's not about the uninsured; it's about people with insurance who have a copay or a deductible that they feel they do not have to pay since we are already getting paid by the insurance company. They signed up for the insurance, they got the benefit book and they agreed to follow the rules. Now when they need the service they balk at following the rules. If I call a plumber to my house for a leak, you can be damn sure he is going to ask for a check before he leaves the house. When I eat out and try to walk out without paying, even if I was STARVING when I walked in, I get arrested. We are all willing to give to our communities, but when that giving is forced upon us, that is wrong.