The amount that people are paying for medical care is on the rise. The average American household spent roughly $5,000 per person on healthcare services last year, which is a 101% increase since 1984 when adjusted for inflation. The cost of medical insurance is also on the rise and has grown 740% in the past few decades. As a result, patients are experiencing pressure on two sides of healthcare – the cost of insurance premiums and high deductibles.
This rising cost is amplifying the need for convenient and affordable patient financing programs. Most patients want to pay their bills, but they simply don’t have enough in savings to cover the entire balance. Financing plans are filling this gap and allowing patients to manage costs over a longer period. The question many practices are now asking is, “What are the best practices for implementing a patient financing program?”
Start Engaging Patients Early
Patients want to understand the cost of care upfront, so the sooner you deliver that information, the better. Start talking with patients about their share of the costs right away, and bring up how they plan to pay the balances. This provides the perfect time to explain patient financing options as well as the benefits and ease of setting up a plan.
Select a partner that delivers technology that patients prefer, such as mobile payments and online portals. For example, mobile payment solutions allow you to send a customized text message or email message that gives patients the option to pay now or enroll in a facility-approved payment plan.
Offer Personalized Payment Plans
One of the reasons patients struggle to pay medical bills is that the balance simply doesn’t fit into their budget. Plans that offer limited repayment plans don’t offer enough flexibility. Patients need a variety of repayment options so they can select the best program for their financial situation.
A personalized patient payment platform allows for this flexibility. The patient can select from a variety of options, such as making small payments over a long period of time or making larger payments for a shorter duration. Having choices empowers patients to feel in charge of paying their medical bills.
Communicate That Patient Financing is Available to Everyone
An important key to successfully rolling out a patient financing program is communicating with patients about availability as some patients who struggle with poor credit might think “this program doesn’t apply to me.”
A patient financing partner that provides 100% approval regardless of credit score history allows you to communicate that the program is available to all patients. Plus, a higher approval rating means that more patients will continue coming back to receive care.
Provide The Flexibility to Adjust
A patient might set up a payment plan for a medical balance that fits their budget. But a few months later that same patient loses her job, and now that monthly payment is a huge financial burden. Payment plans should be flexible enough that a patient can work with the provider to revise terms as needed.
This flexibility allows you to avoid situations in which patients suddenly can’t afford their balances or having patients end up feeling bad about your practice because your financing program wouldn’t work with them during a difficult time. On the flip side, patients should also have the option to pay off balances early if they want to avoid future interest charges.
Work With a Trusted Partner
Practices know that the affordability of care is a challenge for patients. As a result, many have stepped up to provide in-house financing for their patients. However, administering these programs involves challenges, including high costs and the potential for bad debt or cash flow problems.
A partnership with a financing partner allows you to delegate financing tasks so you can focus on what matters most – serving patients. Select a partner that has the same level of professional and compassionate service as your practice to better serve your patients.
Moving Forward With a Favorable Outcome
Patients who feel confident they can pay medical bills are more likely to pay off balances. For example, a hospital implemented a financing program and reduced bad debt by 27 percent over a three-year period through flexible payment options.
Flexible payment options empower patients to work with their doctors to get the care they need at a cost they can afford. As a result, not only will the patient experience be improved, but patients will feel more loyalty to their doctors, continue visiting, and refer friends.
Want to learn how to increase patient collection rates at your practice? Read on for more information.