For many patients, gaining access to necessary medical treatments and procedures often comes down to affordability. Over the last 20 years, consumer prices for in-patient and outpatient medical care have mushroomed by roughly 200%. With healthcare costs soaring, many patients encounter financial barriers like these and others that often delay or prevent them from getting doctor-recommended care.
However, flexible financing options offered by providers are making it increasingly easier for patients to choose needed care or elective procedures that would otherwise be unattainable.
In this article, we’ll look at what some of these financial barriers are and how practices that provide patient financing options can help eliminate these roadblocks. We’ll also highlight the benefits financing gives both patients and healthcare providers, and talk about how critical financial inclusivity is to promoting better health outcomes for your patients.
What financial barriers do patients face in receiving necessary medical care?
For many patients, getting important healthcare is simply out of financial reach. About half of U.S. adults say it’s difficult to afford healthcare costs, and 1 in 4 say they or a family member had problems paying for healthcare in the past 12 months. 4 in 10 insured adults worry about affording their monthly insurance premium. Inflation of medical expenses and fees, higher-deductible insurance plans, and related concerns are either keeping them away from the doctor’s office or forcing them to forgo critical treatments, screenings, and procedures.
Lack of Health Insurance
25.6 million nonelderly U.S. adults are uninsured, and 47% haven’t seen a doctor in the last year. Many of these are working low-income families and people of color. 1 in 5 said they went without needed care in the past year because of cost. In 2022, uninsured nonelderly adults were over twice as likely as adults with private coverage to say the cost of prescription drugs either delayed or prevented their purchase. Those uninsured for 12 months pay for almost 40% of their healthcare out-of-pocket.
Other Financial Barriers Include:
- Limited provider availability
- Transportation challenges
- Language and cultural barriers
- Lack of health literacy
- Social determinants of health (SDOH)
- Lack of paid sick leave time
What are flexible healthcare financing options, and how do they work?
Flexible payment plans allow patients to pay their medical bills and split large care bills into affordable monthly installments. This approach removes the burden of out-of-pocket costs and helps to prevent ever-growing credit card debt with high-interest rates, making healthcare more affordable and accessible to patients. It gives patients more payment options when it comes to costlier treatments and procedures.
Patient financing programs allow patients to review the details and their financial obligations before signing up and receiving the care. Providers should also clarify that insurance estimates don’t necessarily include remaining balances that patients are responsible for paying after the claim is processed.
How do flexible healthcare financing options benefit patients?
Healthcare financing provides options for patients to receive care regardless of whether they have a current healthcare insurance plan or not. Some of these include:
- Access: Patients are able to get provider-recommended care treatments and procedures they otherwise couldn’t access.
- Affordability: Spreading the cost to allow patients to pay over time vs. upfront payments allows patients to receive provider-recommended care and budget appropriately.
- Empowerment: Patients can confidently manage their healthcare and access the treatments they need or the elective procedures that they want.
- High Approval Rates: Even patients with low- to mid-range credit scores typically get approved for financing.
- Eliminate Gaps in Care: Patients are able to get doctor-advised regular maintenance and preventive care to avoid poorer outcomes. This includes chronic disease treatments and monitoring to minimize symptoms and increase quality of life.
How do healthcare providers benefit from patient financing solutions?
If you think patient financing options are great for your patients, there’s also tremendous upside for healthcare practices. Some of them include:
- Increased patient acceptance rates for doctor-recommended treatments and procedures
- Increased revenue that amplifies your accounts receivable (A/R) production
- Attract new and retain current patients who depend on financing options to get care
- Build patient trust by showing you’re willing to work within their financial ability
- Improve patient satisfaction by enhancing the overall patient experience
- Improve revenue cycle management for your healthcare organization with more consistent and dependable cash-flow
How can an automated payment solution streamline patient financing for both you and your patients?
An automated payment solution integrated with a financing tool enables your patients to easily make regular/monthly payments while freeing up your staff from handling financial issues so they can focus on patient care. Patients receive automated payment text or email reminders directly from the payment solution enabling patients to make convenient and secure payments right from their smartphone or other device.
Implementing flexible financing options can help your practice extend financial inclusivity to all your patients by offering them affordable ways to get recommended care they otherwise couldn’t access. It also increases your appointment volume, boosts your revenue, and enables your patients to achieve better health outcomes. An automated payment solution is the final piece of the puzzle, streamlining the financing process to minimize admin staff workload. Automatic reminders make for an improved patient experience because patients can track their balance and make payments anytime, anywhere.
To learn how flexible financing options and automated payment reminders can be a win-win for both you and your patients, download the guide, “Patient Payment Playbook: How to Boost Your Collections in Half the Time.”Read the Guide