With Healthcare Mergers Squeezing Competition, Patients Feel the Pinch

Posted on: March 21, 2018

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We know last year was a tremendous year for mergers and acquisitions in healthcare. One study by Kaufman Hall found that the number of mergers increased by 13% in 2017 compared to 2016, with twice as many “big-ticket” mergers last year.
Many claim these mergers are good for the industry, particularly in terms of cost-savings. Yet, it seems inevitable that patients will get caught in the middle. Studies show that consolidation in healthcare doesn’t improve the quality of care or reduce costs for patients. In fact, economic and health policy experts recently testified in Congress  that healthcare mergers have limited benefits for patients.
When you combine the rise of high-deductible plans with the effects of consolidation, out-of-pocket healthcare costs will continue to rise for patients.
Many of you have already changed your policies and processes to become even more consumer-friendly, keeping patients at the center of your financial strategy. Maybe you have increased your charity care allowance. You may have invested in financial counseling or other resources to help patients understand what they will owe up-front. Most importantly, you want to help your patients find a solution that works for them.
Financial counseling should offer clear, comprehensive options for patients. Although patients today face much higher deductibles than in the past, our experience shows that they really want to pay their bills. A tactic that proves to move the needle for improved patient reimbursement is financial assistance in the form of flexible patient financing options to meet their individual needs.
When you help make care more affordable, you make a difference, not just for patients or for your bottom line, but for the community as a whole. In our annual Healthcare Consumerism study, 95% of patients say offering payment financing of more than 12 months is a benefit to the community.