Thousands of previously uninsured people now have insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But the ACA has also changed the way hospitals are operating, making them focus more on patient satisfaction and education, as well as providing a rounded healthcare experience both inside and outside the hospital walls.
Part of this challenge comes from the fact that many of these newly insured have simply never had insurance before, and they don’t understand how it works. This causes issues in many areas of the hospital, but specifically in the billing department. It’s important for hospitals to spend time educating the newly insured in all areas of financial responsibility—from the beginning of the process to the end.
Out of the ER
In the past, many people who were uninsured would simply visit the emergency room for non-emergency situations. In many cases, it was the easiest means for those people to receive care, given that they were not insured and many physicians refuse to see those without insurance.
Because many children were raised in such a way—if you’re sick you go to the ER—they don’t necessarily understand there’s another way to visit a hospital or be seen if you’re not feeling well. And you can’t really blame them. Instead, an education plan to help the newly insured can go a long way in making sure they not only understand how to interact with the healthcare system, but also what their individual financial responsibilities will be after a visit. If you tell them a trip to a clinic is more affordable than a trip to the ER, you’re bound to get their attention.
Co-Pay, Deductible, and Self-Pay
Insurance isn’t a simple thing to understand. If you grow up without it, the entire idea of it can seem like something very foreign. When a newly insured person walks into your facility, it’s very important to take the time to learn what they know and understand, and educate them on the rest. Do they understand the concept of a co-pay or deductible? Do they know that they will still likely be responsible for some portion of payment after insurance covers what they do? Help them understand insurance and, as more educated patients, you can expect a more efficient revenue cycle.
Many of the newly insured may well have cash flow issues. In reality, some may not even maintain a bank account. It’s important for revenue cycle management that you work with these patients particularly early and identify them as potential late or non-payers. This can allow you to set up payment plans or another alternative payment methods that can help them get the care they need, and help you efficiently close your revenue cycle.
If you have other questions about how you can educate patients on their financial responsibilities, contact HCM today to see how we can help.