By Bruce Haupt, President & CEO
The new decade is here. In 2020, we can expect healthcare pricing and affordability to take center stage as the presidential race kicks into gear. With the focus on affordable healthcare, we have an opportunity to help people who are most vulnerable manage to pay for the healthcare they deserve.
For a broader perspective, consider how our industry has responded in the past. During the last century, we’ve seen great achievements in healthcare. Last summer we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking report “To Err Is Human,” which revealed that 98,000 people die every year due to medical errors. Our industry was compelled to find solutions, and we did. For the past five years, we at ClearBalance® have taken measures to make healthcare affordable for consumers who need financing options to receive care and pay their fair share.
Despite rising deductibles and mounting out-of-pocket expenses, there should be no reason a patient goes to collections. No one should have to forego food or medicine to pay a surprise medical bill. We believe that patient bad debt can be eliminated through a cohesive strategy that includes a zero-interest long-term financing plan. Most patients will pay what they owe, if you give them an affordable repayment path—a win-win for your organization and your community.
Today, the experience consumers have with their health system affects their decision about whether they will return the next time they need care. The patient’s financial experience spans steps in what we call the Pre-service to Next Service Patient Financial Journey™. This approach eases patients’ concerns because the health system provides estimated out-of-pocket costs up front, along with an affordable and convenient payment option, which positions the health system as the logical, affordable choice the next time the patient needs care.
According to our 2019 Healthcare Consumerism study, 87% of respondents expect their provider to offer long-term financing options, along with convenient enrollment and ongoing customer service. In return, consumers are loyal to their healthcare provider. The study shows that 90% very likely will return due to availability of a financing program and 87% will recommend the healthcare provider to friends and family.
In the five years of conducting the study, we’ve found that patients expect to have the financial conversation and want to actively participate in all aspects of their care. Further, they want a combination of high-tech convenience and high-touch human interaction. This kind of comprehensive account management enhances the patient experience and earns their loyalty.
We’ve made progress with patient financing, helping health systems remain true to their mission as community leaders to provide healthcare for all. As we begin the new decade, there’s every reason to believe we can build on that progress. We’re providing an honest-to-goodness benefit that Americans want and will use to get the best healthcare available. While the conversation about healthcare costs ramps up this year, we must stay the course and avoid shortcuts that could damage the progress made in terms of patient adoption, community perception, patient loyalty and satisfaction. Our mission is to help consumers afford the care they need to live healthy lives.