Recent surveys show that more than ¾ of patients believe that it is either important, or very important to know what their costs are going to be before a procedure or surgery. More than half of those polled also said they would like to discuss options for financing prior to receiving treatment. However, a majority of providers are not making these options available to patients according to the results of a patient survey conducted by ORC International and HealthFirst Financial.
This survey showed that only 18 percent of those surveyed said that their provider had spoken to them at any point in time over the previous two-year period of time. 57 percent of respondents said they thought it important, or very important for providers to offer payment programs for patients; offering payment plans without any interest being charged. Only 8 percent of those surveyed had ever been offered a low or no interest finance option by their provider.
Of the millennials aged 18 to 36 years old, 40 percent said that they would be likely or very likely to switch to a different provider if they were able to offer them low or no interest finance options to resolve their medical bills. A full 29 percent of respondents to the survey also said that they would move to another provider if the new provider was willing to offer them the option of an affordable payment plan.
No matter what the income level of those responding to the survey; everyone worries about the cost of healthcare. 42 percent are either concerned or very concerned about whether they can pay for the self-pay portion of their medical bills in the next two years. For respondents making less than $35,000 per year, that same number jumps to 54 percent but falls to 24 percent for those making $100,000 or more per year.
Patients would like to know what they will have to pay as early on in the process as possible. 77 percent of those surveyed said it was either important, or very important that providers make it clear what the cost of a procedure or surgery would be prior to the date of surgery. 63 percent stated that they found it important or very important that pricing lists are published detailing costs for common procedures.
People now find that they have less room in their budget to take on the self-pay portion of their medical bills. 53 percent of those polled said they were concerned about their ability to pay $1000 in medical bills; while 35 percent worried about paying $500 in medical bills and 16 percent worried about paying $250 or less.
The reasons the survey was commissioned was to understand how consumers are dealing with medical expenses now and in the future. The survey makes it clear that when providers don’t educate their patients about options for finance, patients are willing to switch providers altogether or delay necessary care while they search for necessary help. Neither scenario is good for the financial health and welfare of a provider though; so it’s extremely important for providers to develop a plan to meet the needs of patients even as they continue to evolve.