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Healthcare Literacy: A Better Understanding of Benefits and Costs Up Front Improves Care and Collections

Consumers are confused by costs

Unlike other industries, healthcare services are often provided before consumers even know the price. Without this insight, misunderstandings regarding the nuances of co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance and maximum out-of-pocket costs can occur.

According to a recent TransUnion Healthcare patient survey, only 51% of respondents said they fully understood their financial responsibility for medical bills. As such, it’s no wonder more than half of patients report being surprised by a medical bill they expected to be covered by their health insurance.1

What can providers do to better educate patient populations on benefits and costs associated with care?

1. Recognize patients are actively researching costs.

Per our survey, 75% of patients utilize either healthcare provider or payer/insurance websites, among other sources, to research the cost of care. This percentage is even higher with younger patients — at 85% and 84% for Gen Z and Millennial respondents, respectively.

Ensure your organization is part of this research ecosystem by making prices transparent, and having online estimation tools easily accessible on your website.

2. Provide accurate patient payment estimates.

An engaged patient is more likely to seek care and pay for it. In fact, 62% of survey respondents said knowing out-of-pocket expenses impacts their likelihood of pursuing care. Just under half (49%) of patients said that having clear, out-of-pocket cost estimates impacts their decision to use a healthcare provider. This information is increasingly important for Gen Z and Millennials seeking care, as 65% and 60%, respectively, say it influences their decision to visit the doctor.

An estimate can also drive payment. We found 65% of respondents would be more willing to make at least a partial payment when an estimate is given at the time of service.

3.Understand how the state of the economy impacts healthcare decisions.

With media reports of a weakening economy, 25% of patients surveyed stated they plan to proactively get a checkup or other medical treatment they’ve been putting off. This may be related to a fear they could lose health insurance if their job situation changes. This percentage is highest — at nearly one-third — with the Millennial population.

For providers, this is a good reminder to be more aware of external pressures that may drive care decisions.

Download our infographic for more insights into payment trends based on generational patient behaviors.

1https://www.norc.org/NewsEventsPublications/PressReleases/Pages/new-survey-reveals-57-percent-of-americans-have-been-surprised-by-a-medical-bill.aspx

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