On January 13th we posted part one in this topic of Eligibility in healthcare, in that, we touched on deductibles, co-pay, and max out-of-pocket pay. Now in part two, we review the impact of price transparency in healthcare and its importance to the healthcare team decisions.
The individual consumer’s healthcare team includes, along with themselves, the physician and their staff, the pharmacist, an insurance adviser and possibly some gatekeepers as well. The communication of clear symptoms when a patient is diagnosed is the responsibility of that team along with building an understanding of the financial responsibility that goes with any medical solution. While providing answers, options and solutions is a provider responsibility, so is providing a cost for the provided care. Therefore, price transparency can be achieved when the cost for that care is presented in a clear and concise fashion so the patient can understand what they owe, why they owe it and when it is due.
Ensuring your staff is educated on discussing the financial responsibility with the patient from the first appointment and forward will strengthen the healthcare partnership and assist in the collection process. Understanding the steps that occur post the upfront estimate can be beneficial to the team. This discussion can be bolstered by ensuring bills are clearly marked with the statement, “this is a bill”, also clearly listing what the patient is being charged for when the bill is due and offering details on the methods of payment that are accepted. This clarifies what insurance will cover for the patient and their own out-of-pocket cost, prompting them to share any concerns and constraints with payments upfront.
Estimating patient responsibility is one part of the reimbursement process that is used for transparency for patient billing. The estimates can be provided using a spreadsheet of prior reimbursement and your most commonly billed CPT codes. If you would like an automated and more accurate option then look into a software tool like the Patient Responsibility Estimator by our solutions partner, TriZetto Provider Solutions (TPS). Giving this to the patient at the time of checking in will assure they have a rough idea of the costs and allow the office to collect upfront if needed.
[Contribution by Brenda Smelser with the DMC]