What is Price Transparency?
It’s a story we hear too often. A person visits a hospital for a medical issue—whether it be a trip to the emergency room for a broken arm or a pre-scheduled appointment for a headache that just won’t go away—and receives a myriad of services and tests. Then comes the dreaded bill in the mail a few weeks later. Although they may inquire about an estimate at the time of service or have an idea of their coverage, the exact financial responsibility is often a mystery until that bill arrives. While the changes vary greatly, one thing that is certain: many people have trouble with their out-of-pocket costs. So much so that a recent survey from The Commonwealth Fund found that 72 million Americans have some sort of trouble with medical debt.
So, on January 1, 2021, the price transparency rule was put into effect—from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)—requiring all hospitals within the United States hospitals to publish the prices of various medical procedures. In particular, standard charges for services and items must be published online, available for patients to access. Until now, these prices were hard to find. The timing of this change—the beginning of the calendar year—comes at a time when healthcare pricing is top of mind since many customers most likely renewed or changed insurance carriers and coverage on January 1, 2021. With this comes a focus on out-of-pocket costs, deductibles, and more.
What Brought About This Radical Change?
Part of this change can be attributed to the consumers themselves. With the increase in high deductible health plans and increased out-of-pocket costs, finances are top of mind. In addition to these factors, today’s consumers demand a better overall patient experience. With the prevalence of online shopping, patients expect the same seamless transaction at the hospital that they receive with companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot. Just as consumers read product reviews before placing an item in their online shopping cart, patients research services and access peer reviews of physicians before they go to the office. In short, they want to be knowledgeable about their healthcare and crave tailored services with exceptional customer service.
Many believe this change will be well received, with Forbes calling the ruling a “gift to all Americans.” From the consumer’s standpoint, it will now be easier to make educated decisions based on cost. This will then cut down on the “unknown”—hopefully eliminating those hefty surprise bills—and opens the door to comparison shopping. Advocates are hoping this newfound transparency will eventually lower costs, with the competition eventually driving down the prices.
How Can Healthcare Organizations Navigate This Change?
This will not only promote transparency but will also increase convenience. By enabling patients to access and pay their bills on their own schedule with easy-to-implement solutions, organizations are meeting them halfway, so to speak. With easy-to-understand statements, integrated credit card processing, and 24/7 payment portals, it is no longer a hassle to manage medical financials. For healthcare organizations, facilitating proactive management of a person’s cost of care accelerates revenue collections and patient satisfaction improves.
In the larger sense, executives recognize that patients are taking more stock in their personal care. In order to thrive, hospitals and health systems must work toward creating the optimal patient experience, beyond just price transparency. With this, providers should aim to be more engaged and C-suite executives should try to provide additional benefits to their patients.
What Will This Mean for the Future of the Industry?
Only time will tell what the price transparency will mean for the industry. However, it is safe to say that this concept has the possibility to shape healthcare policies and processes for years to come.
So, for more information on solutions that equip you to have informed conversations about eligibility and financial responsibility, contact one of EZClaim’s partners, TriZetto Provider Solutions, to talk with one of their representatives today.
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, they help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, e-mail them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
[ Article contributed by TriZetto Provider Solutions Editorial Team ]
Reserve your place for a webinar that will inform you on how to increase your revenue with a proper medical billing verification strategy.
With increased patient financial responsibility, it’s extremely important to proactively check your patients’ benefits coverage and provide payment estimates to avoid any unexpected costs. By enhancing your medical billing verification strategy and providing patient financial transparency upfront, it increases the likelihood that you’ll rake in more revenue this season.
Join EZClaim and TriZetto Provider Solutions, a Cognizant Company, for a webinar on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 1 p.m. ET, to discover strategies your practice can catch falling revenue through seamless integration and automation.
During This Webinar We Will Discuss:
• Patient Responsibility Estimation: Quickly obtain patient financial estimates at the point of service to help increase patient revenue, decrease billing costs, and improve patient satisfaction through price transparency.
• Integrated Eligibility: Connect to payers through a single application to get the most up-to-date information on patient coverage, co-pays, deductibles, and more. Proactively verify patient eligibility, for up to 50 patients at a time directly from your EZClaim Premier program.
• Insurance Eligibility Discovery: Submit a real-time eligibility request using minimal data and identify a patient’s insurance carrier in a matter of seconds. Maintain groups of your common payers and easily locate active patients and full eligibility benefits on our website.
RESERVE YOUR PLACE NOW!
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS:
EZCLAIM: EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides best-in-class customer service and support. To learn more, e-mail them at email@example.com or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
TRIZETTO: TriZetto combines innovative, proven products with an exacting commitment to serving our customers, in order to provide you with the tools you need to effectively manage your reimbursement cycle.
EZClaim Launches EZClaimPay, a new feature in its medical billing software that makes credit card processing painless!
EZClaim, a company with the mission of elevating its clients to stay in front of the ever-changing landscape of medical billing, announced today the launch of its credit card processing feature and service called, EZClaimPay.
EZClaim released the product in August 2020 as a solution to the ever-changing landscape of payment reconciliation. It was cited by customers as a timely response to a ‘pain point’—credit card payment processing—another example of EZClaim’s devotion to their mission.
Dan Loch, VP of Marketing commented that “EZClaim’s goal continues to be making life easier for medical billers at practices and billing firms. EZClaimPay is just one more feature within our mission of living up to that goal.” This feature will help companies get in front of the changes in medical transparency that are coming soon.
EZClaimPay provides for consolidated reconciliation (Payment reports; Chargeback management; and Reconciliation reports) and a single point of contact for support (Hardware; Software; and Payments).
EZClaim has developed a robust payments platform—tightly integrated with their software and support—to make accepting credit cards for payment PAINLESS! EZClaimPay makes software and payments better together.
For more details about EZClaimPay, view this web page: https://ezclaim.com/ezclaimpay/
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides best-in-class customer service and support. To learn more, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
A group of senators introduced the “Health Care PRICE Transparency Act” in a move to empower patients to lower their healthcare costs.
On a basic level, the Act will require all medical facilities to post payer-negotiated rates for all shoppable services, so the patient can find the most inexpensive way to take care of their medical needs. This legislation will give Americans the chance to see the actual costs of their healthcare visits, which in theory, will increase competition and lower healthcare costs for everyone.
The added transparency of the Act will bring more accountability and competition to the healthcare industry, and gives American’s more control over their healthcare costs. However, if you are a medical practice, a hospital, or a member of the medical billing community, you need to know how you can best respond.
• “What is this procedure going to cost?”: There is going to be mounting pressure on practitioners, medical billers, and hospitals to have answers for the cost of procedures. Jeff Leibach, a director of Guidehouse’s healthcare strategic solutions team, says that “regardless of the legal fate of the final rule, hospitals need to be prepared for more price transparency in the future.” So, to get in front of this—and help you compete against your competitors—you should be prepared with both what it will cost for individual services and procedures, as well as, a ‘value statement’ on why it will cost what you are charging.
• Prepare to Comply or Cover the Costs: As it stands now, the legislation is moving towards technology assisting with the billing transparency. This will aid the patients to better understand the cost of services. This is a ‘clarion call’ for you to begin preparing for this reality or you will struggle with being fined and potentially publicly shamed in publications for being offenders. We recommend starting to comply NOW before the deadline ‘sneaks up’ on you.
• Use It To Improve: Currently, healthcare practices are, in many cases, already working at capacity. The added effort of defining cost and selling procedures are enough to make some healthcare facilities put this off until it is too late. Yet, while many may be considering accepting the fines and fees associated with non-compliance, we advise using this as an opportunity to improve—to better establish your medical practice’s services and promote your ability to be proactive to change. Getting ahead of the coming ‘wave’ of consumer expectations of healthcare will be a benefit.
• Seek Out Vendors That Can Assist: The changes that are coming for individual practices and healthcare providers can be overwhelming, and potentially it might just be more than what an IT team or private practice can handle. Forward-thinking billing departments should be investing in software vendors that can help fill that gap. EZClaim is a medical billing software company that partners with Trizetto to provide a tool called, Patient Responsibility Estimation (PRE). This tool assists in clarifying costs to consumers by providing a cheap and fast way for them to pay for out-of-pocket costs. [ Click here to learn more about how EZClaim can help you ].
It is clear that the expectations of consumers are changing, and the wave of medical transparency is on its way. Accepting it, preparing for it, and using vendor software to help overcome it, can be the difference of your practice avoiding fines and fees. For those forward-thinking and proactive practices who want to learn about how EZClaim can help, e-mail one of their sales representatives, go to their website for more details, or download a FREE 30-day trial today!
On January 13th we posted part one on 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.
Consumers are the most important member of the healthcare team and are better collaborators in their care when they know all the variables and their required responsibilities in the process.
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’s 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.
For more information on how EZClaim can help you with this journey, schedule time with our sales team. Ready to get started? Download your FREE 30-day Trial today!
[ Contribution by Brenda Smelser with the DMC ]