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Analysis

Want to Drive Patients Away? Stick with Outdated Billing Practices.

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   November 14, 2019

40% of consumers would switch providers to get affordable healthcare payment arrangements.

Two in five consumers—and half of households with children—say they would switch providers in order to get affordable healthcare payment arrangements, finds an AccessOne survey.

That's up from 2018 when 33% of individuals and 43% of households with children said so. In addition, 56% of consumers have delayed care due to costs, and 26% have postponed care by a year or more.

The bottom line? Patients are more likely than ever to consider price, transparency, and their billing experience as a key factor in determining where and when they get care.

AccessOne surveyed more than 1,000 consumers about healthcare pricing and payments, and its findings offer several important lessons for health system executives who are prioritizing patient-friendly revenue cycle revamps.

The finding: Three-in-four consumers are willing to shop around for healthcare based on price, and 38% are already doing so. In addition, 59% of patients (and 69% of Gen Xers) say providers' willingness to share price information prior to the point of service is a critical factor in determining where to seek care.

The lesson: There are lots of healthcare providers out there, and in a competitive market—consisting of competing health systems, plus retail, telemedicine, and other options—patients will "vote with their legs" and move onto a provider who can meet their price and transparency needs.

The finding: 40% of consumers aren't sure how they would pay an unexpected medical expense under $500, and 60% say they'd get worried about an unexpected medical bill of less than $1,000.

The lesson: Patients need and want flexible and affordable payment and financing options, which means it's important to offer a variety of interest-free payment plan options, even for smaller-dollar bills.

The finding: Two in five consumers expect providers to publish pricing lists for common procedures. These expectations are particularly strong among millennials (43%) and consumers with families (42%).

The lesson: In an ideal world, price transparency data should be accurate and personalized to each patient. But it's better to start small by listing prices only for the most common procedures than not to offer any information at all. For instance, UCHealth's groundbreaking price transparency effort launched with estimates for just 38 services when it went live with its estimator tool in August 2018.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.


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