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The Value of Educating Patients on Their Medical Bills

Professionals in the healthcare industry might know what a copay or deductible is just as people know what a shoe or fork is, but not everyone in the general public is as well-versed about the terms used when determining who owes how much following a visit to the doctor or the emergency room or a stay in the hospital. We encounter this all the time in our office, and recent studies show that it is more prevalent that you might realize.

More troubling is when these two data points are put together: only 33% of individuals have some degree of confidence that the bills they receive from their healthcare provider are accurate, and 40% of individuals said they would stop going to a doctor or healthcare facility and find somewhere else if the bills they receive are confusing or inaccurate (https://www.salucro.com/home/new-data-shows-patient-acquisition-increasingly-impacted-by-the-consumer-financial-experience/). More than one-third of individuals would switch providers if the payment process was too confusing or disorganized. This means that healthcare practices across the country are losing business because of problems that, most likely, can be easily addressed.

In extreme cases, people are choosing to avoid receiving treatment for sicknesses or injuries because they are uncertain what their healthcare insurance will cover and what they will be required to pay.(https://www.policygenius.com/blog/health-insurance-literacy-survey-2019/)

Doctors and hospitals have a primary objective — to make sure their patients get healthy. That is why people go to doctors in the first place. But, incredibly, there is a secondary objective that is becoming just as important: making sure that the patient understands the financial obligation that will result from whatever brought them to the doctor in the first place. The facilities that can do the best job at explaining how the process works and work to make patients feel comfortable will be the ones that are the most successful. Those will be the places that people want to send their friends and family to.

Making the investment to educate patients about the billing and collection process may seem like it’s a burden that shouldn’t have to be shouldered by your office/hospital/health system, but think of the time that can be saved when the patient doesn’t call after the bill is received with a million questions about what the different charges mean and what insurance covered and why they have to pay so much. On top of that, making the investment to educate at the outset of the process will likely lead to fewer angry patients, disputes, and confrontations — all outcomes that nobody wants.

If there are two common symptoms that most people have when they visit the doctor, it’s uncertainty and confusion about the billing and collection process. Prevent problems before they occur by making sure patients are comfortable not just with the medical aspects of their treatment, but the financial ones as well. 


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