As high deductible plans spread, can patients keep up?

Jun 22, 2015 | Healthcare Industry News

One of the greatest contributing factors to medical debt occurs when a patient can't afford to pay the deductible on his or her plan. Over the last several years, higher deductible plans have spread throughout the country, shifting more financial responsibility onto individuals versus the amount their insurance companies provide to pay for care. 

A study by PricewaterhouseCooper's Health Research Institute found that over the last year, high-deductible plans have become the most popular type of insurance that individuals obtain. In just 12 months, the prevalence of these policies grew from 26 percent to 31 percent. Currently, 25 percent of employers offer these plans as the only healthcare option for employees, but the number is expected to grow in the near future. Thirty-eight percent of employers are considering eliminating options besides plans with high deductibles, leaving their employees little choice but to accept the costly terms. 

As such, the cost of health care on individuals may grow considerably, with fewer Americans who are able to meet the demands of policies offered through their workplaces. The trend was cited as a reason why individuals are paying more out of pocket than in previous years, despite efforts to make insurance more accessible and treatments more affordable. 

This could lead to a higher number of claims that health care administrators are responsible for pursuing. As more patients find themselves unable to pay the deductible on their plans, a cycle of debt begins that can be costly for medical facilities to manage alone. When those enterprises outsource receivables management, they shift some of that energy and attention so that administrators can focus on high-priority claims in a caseload. This reduces backlog and allows offices to run more efficiently.