ClearBalance Consumerism Study Finds Patients Seek Affordable Healthcare Financing

Posted on: September 14, 2016

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 14, 2016 – Healthcare is a big-ticket expense that requires long-term financing, according to 91 percent of patients/consumers responding to the ClearBalance® Healthcare Consumerism study. Now in its second year, the Healthcare Consumerism study measures awareness, satisfaction and loyalty with the ClearBalance consumer-friendly loan program. It also measures patients’ use of the program and quantifies their perceptions of healthcare providers that offer affordable financing for medical care.

“Healthcare often is a large, unexpected expense,” says Bruce Haupt, president and CEO of ClearBalance. “Some patients use their entire savings to pay their medical bills, or worse, declare bankruptcy. The ClearBalance program is a better option. Patients can afford to repay their portion of care and often are more loyal to the health system that offers our program.”

Increasingly, patients are judging and rating their satisfaction with healthcare organizations by the amount of repeat business and referrals they bring. Nearly all (97 percent) of the survey respondents say a healthcare provider that offers the ClearBalance program is providing a community benefit. Ninety percent of respondents will return to the healthcare provider that offers a ClearBalance loan program and 88 percent would recommend the healthcare provider to friends and family. According to the Advisory Board Company, patients who return to a healthcare organization within 18 months generate six times more revenue for that provider.

ClearBalance program users are heavily weighted toward private, employer-provided insurance. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents depend on their employer-provided insurance to help cover medical costs. While more than half (58 percent) of all respondents say their annual insurance deductible is $3,000 or less, clearly the ClearBalance program fills the gap for out-of-pocket expenses. In his healthcare blog, Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation has noted, “A surprising percentage of people with private insurance … simply do not have the resources to pay their deductibles.”

The 2016 Healthcare Consumerism study was completed by more than 2,700 participants in August. Key findings include:
• Study respondents are loyal and strong promoters of the ClearBalance program
o These positive attributes extend to the sponsoring healthcare provider
• The patient’s portion of healthcare costs continues to be a concern for many consumers
o Cost is a factor when selecting a physician (79 percent say yes) and a healthcare provider (81 percent say yes)
o Healthcare is an expense that requires financing of more than 12 months (91 percent say yes)
o One out of every three consumers will delay care if a loan program isn’t available
• Satisfaction with the ClearBalance Patient Experience Center and the patient payment portal remain high
o Nearly half of the respondents have called the Patient Experience Center; of those individuals, 95 percent were very satisfied with the Patient Experience Center representative and 94 percent were able to resolve their question and/or pay their bill
o Eighty-eight percent of respondents use the patient portal; of those, 97% say the portal is easy to use and helpful to manage their account

“The findings from this study support what we see day in and day out: There is absolutely a demand for affordable healthcare financing,” Haupt says. “The quality of care a patient receives is expected to be high, but now what is also expected is a way to make that care affordable.”

About ClearBalance
ClearBalance partners with health systems to provide consumer-centric affordable care while improving net recovery of patient pay and overall financial performance. We have served more than 4 million patient accounts and maintain the industry’s highest patient loan repayment rate. Our program enables patients to easily pay their medical costs and engenders loyalty, positioning the health system as the care location of choice in its community. The ClearBalance ROI Value Model™, Peer Reviewed by HFMA, establishes nationally recognized patient loan program performance standards to benefit health systems and their patients. www.ClearBalance.org.