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Lack of Price Transparency Deters One in Three Americans from Seeking Care

Analysis  |  By Jay Asser  
   November 02, 2022

Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents also don't now if their providers offer financial resources.

Price transparency protects patients financially, but it can also affect their decision to seek out care in the first place, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by revenue cycle firm AKASA.

The survey of 2,026 Americans between March 9 and March 14, 2022, found that respondents are more discouraged from pursuing necessary care if they are left in the dark about pricing information.

More than a third (35%) said they would be deterred from seeking out care for themselves if they were unaware of pricing, while 40% said they wouldn't be dissuaded and 25% answered they didn't know if it would affect them.

Inaction due to a lack of pricing information was less prevalent when it came to dependents (18.3%) and parents/guardians (20%).

Hospitals have been slow to adhere to the price transparency rule, which went into effect January 1, 2021, but facilities appear to be making progress. A recent report by Turquoise Health found that 76% of hospitals have posted a machine-readable file (MRF), 65% have posted an MRF with negotiated rates, and 63% have posted an MRF with cash rates.

Payers, meanwhile, have generally adapted quicker than hospitals, and the Turquoise Health report found 80 insurers to have published rates.

In addition to price transparency's affect on patients seeking care, the YouGov survey revealed that almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) don't know if their physicians or hospitals offer payment plans or financial assistance for medical bills.

That figure increased significantly for uninsured Americans (80%), indicating that more needs to be done to create awareness and improve the patient financial experience.

"A positive experience is directly tied to an organization's reputation and ratings. It increases utilization, improves loyalty and retention, and, as a result, boosts their bottom line," said Amy Raymond, vice president of revenue cycle operations at AKASA. "Yet improving the patient financial experience in healthcare is one area that continues to lag behind other industries. If the reactive nature of medical billing continues to be the status quo, patients can miss out on opportunities to prevent medical debt which creates unnecessary hardship.

"As hospitals and healthcare systems continue to grapple with slim profit margins, workforce shortages, rising denials, and a high cost-to-collect, they must prioritize the patient financial experience and rethink medical billing and revenue cycle as a front-end, patient advocacy function rather than a reactive, back-end process."

Jay Asser is the contributing editor for strategy at HealthLeaders. 


KEY TAKEAWAYS

A YouGov survey finds that 35% of people would be deterred from seeking care for themselves if they were unaware of the price ahead of time.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of Americans don't know if their physicians or hospitals offer payment plans or financial assistance for medical bills.

Improving the patient financial experience should be a focus for more healthcare organizations.


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