Over 60 percent of patients surprised by out-of-pocket costs

Many Americans report being confused and surprised when receiving their bill for medical services.

This blog has previously addressed how the rising popularity of insurance plans with high deductibles have left many patients dealing with high out-of-pocket costs. Now, a new survey performed by TransUnion Healthcare shows just how widespread the issue has become. 

The survey included 7,407 patients from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and found that 62 percent of those surveyed were surprised by their out-of-pocket costs. Fifty-four percent of respondents were subscribed to employer-sponsored health insurance plans, and 12 percent were on individual plans. Medicare recipients made up 18 percent of those surveyed, and Medicaid subscribers made up 9 percent. 

What may be more concerning is that over half — 54 percent — reported that they were sometimes or always confused by their medical bills. This may speak to a disconnect between providers and their patients, and could require more clear communication efforts to ensure patients understand and are satisfied with their treatments. 

One possible means of addressing the problem could be facilities becoming more transparent with the cost of their care and services. This could possibly reduce the "sticker shock" many patients experience when receiving their bill, as well as increase patient satisfaction. The TransUnion survey found that 80 percent of patients stated that receiving pre-treatment cost estimates and pre-treatment insurance coverage estimates would be either "helpful" or "extremely helpful" in managing medical costs.

When patients are surprised by their medical bills and are unable to afford the full amount, care facilities can experience issues with collection of accounts receivable. These issues can quickly result in the facility becoming unable to provide a high level of quality care, and decreased patient satisfaction scores. Outsourcing medical claims processing can help improve cash flow, and allow facilities to continue providing excellent quality care.