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Out-of-Pocket Costs Rose 12% in 2018

By Jack O'Brien  
   June 25, 2019

Patients experienced a 12% increase in out-of-pocket costs in 2018, according to a new survey.

Out-of-pocket costs rose across all specialty care settings in 2018, according to a TransUnion Healthcare study released at the 2019 Healthcare Financial Management Association Conference Tuesday morning.

Overall out-of-pocket costs rose 12% year-over-year, with inpatient costs jumping more than $600, outpatient costs increasing nearly $200, and emergency department costs rising $40 compared to 2017.

Nearly 60% of patients reported having an average out-of-pocket expense between $500 and $1,000 in 2018, a 39% increase year-over-year. 

Related: Containing Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs

Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare, attributed to the growing shift of payment responsibility from payers to patients in recent years.

"As a result, patients are now making decisions about where they receive care based on costs – not just the quality of care they may receive," Wojczynski said in a statement. "This means price transparency is critical for healthcare providers who are not only competing for patients, but also want to secure timely payments from them."

Related: Surprise! Fixing Out-Of-Network Bills Means Someone Must Pay

While the number of patients with large out-of-pocket costs rose in 2018, the number of patients with smaller out-of-pocket costs decreased by 13% compared to 2017.

In addition to the high out-of-pocket costs facing patients, TransUnion cited other studies that found patients struggled to routinely make payments on healthcare expenses and dealt with increased denial rates.

The study concluded that providers focus on revenue protection strategies in order to recoup as many outstanding reimbursements as possible.

Related: 13.3M Americans Spent More than 10% of Income on Premiums

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Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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