The rise of high-deductible health plans is one of the major health care trends to take place since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also known Obamacare). This trend not only affects patients, but it also has a direct impact on physician practices. In order to operate successfully in today’s health care landscape, it requires a greater awareness of differences among insurance policies and discussions of treatment options that are sensitive to patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.
With more of the financial burden resting on their shoulders, patients are more cognizant of costs than ever before. This means that patients are questioning their physicians about the costs of procedures, and they might even skip appointments or reduce the number of interactions they have with their physician thinking it will help reduce their yearly health care spending.
Unfortunately, many patients don’t realize that their preventive office visits and services would be covered regardless of whether they have met the annual deductible. This includes annual wellness visits, certain cancer screenings and other beneficial preventive services. Your practice should consider countering this misunderstanding by sending explanatory postcards, e-mails or letters.
Physician used to be concerned about whether a patient had insurance and now that concern has shifted to the type of insurance. The best way practice’s can approach billing issues is to be upfront and transparent with patients by clearly detailing costs and options well before a collections problem arises.
Practice managers and front-desk staff should be knowledgeable about various fees, insurance policies, and how to broach financial issues with patients. They members should check patients’ eligibility for services and ensure that a patient knows the costs that likely will be incurred during an office visit.