ORLANDO, Fla. — Hospitals and physicians are bracing for patients to start paying more for healthcare on their own thanks to high-deductible health plans or lack of insurance, according to a new survey of 125 health system chief financial officers and revenue cycle executives.
More than 90% of survey respondents said the increase in consumer out-of-pocket costs will affect their organizations, and rural executives particularly were concerned about the impact, according to the Healthcare Financial Management Association/Navigant survey.
About 58% of rural executives said the financial strains stemming from patient self-pay will be significant, almost twice the percentage of their urban counterparts, the survey shows. Not all health systems are prepared for the next wave of self-pay. Just 14% of respondents have software that enables them to predict the likelihood of patients to pay their bills, although 63% are able to give consumers an estimate of their out-of-pocket costs, the survey showed.
The HFMA, a leading association for healthcare financial executives, is holding its annual national institute forum in Orlando this week.
Hospitals need processes for how and when to talk to patients about their out-of-pocket costs, said Sandra Wolfskill, the HFMA's director of healthcare finance policy, revenue cycle MAP program. Patients often are already under stress about their care.
"It is essential for healthcare leaders to apply a discipline to patient financial communications," Wolfskill said.
In 2016, for the first time, more than half of all workers (51%) with single coverage faced a deductible of at least $1,000, the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust found in a recent study.
Hospitals are bearing part of the brunt of the financial impact of high-deductible plans.
A late 2016 study by Crowe Revenue Cycle Analytics found that overall managed-care net revenue at 660 hospitals declined 2.5% for outpatient care and 1.4% for inpatient care over the previous 12 months as a result of lower collection rates for the patient responsibility share of bills.