March 15, 2011 — For American drivers, the recent spike in the price of crude oil has evoked painful memories of the summer of 2008, when the average price for regular gasoline reached an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon.
What does this have to do with healthcare?Well…everything. As instability continues in the Middle East and America’s fragile economy tries to right itself, consumers are having a difficult time budgeting the cost of daily necessities.
Now, add to this developing budget strain, healthcare payments, which are oftentimes the result of an unexpected medical event, and it’s easy to see how self-pay hospital bills can fall to the bottom of consumers’ “Bills to Pay” list.
Consider the following statistics:
- Approximately 50 percent of personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. (Source: Health Affairs)
- Based on a recent survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 41% of organizations said they were “likely” to pass on increased costs of health care coverage to their employees, whether directly or indirectly related to health reform, while 23% of organizations said they were “highly likely” to pass on these costs.
What is the solution? Avoid necessary treatment and run the risks associated with this decision? Hopefully this is not the case. As consumers take on the burden of higher self-pay balances and many healthcare providers struggle with having to write-off billions of dollars in bad debt, the list of viable solutions for both consumers and providers is limited.
According to Ken Ursin, Corporate Director of Patient Financial Services for Adventist Health Systems, Adventist uses a system called ClearBalance by CSI Financial Services. “ClearBalance provides a win for our financial counselors in that they have an excellent tool to resolve the patient’s balance,” Ursin said. “And, it’s a win for our patients because they have a program that is more suitable for their budget.”
CSI Financial Services offers a bank loan program designed specifically for the healthcare industry and, more specifically, patients look to repay their out-of-pocket medical expenses over time. Patients can repay their obligation through a zero or low interest bank loan with affordable monthly payments as low as $20. Meanwhile, healthcare providers receive funding for patient balances upfront and reduce bad debt as well as their cost to collect.
Knowledge is power. So as prices for most consumer products and services continue to rise, it is important for consumers to understand that healthcare payments are on the rise as well. The worst decision an individual could make is to not seek treatment for a medical condition. If you’re sick or injured and require medical attention, make sure to get the care you need. But find comfort in knowing that there are hospitals and clinics all over the country that use the ClearBalance program and others like it, to keep your healthcare payments within your household budget.