According to a new study from TransUnion, three out of four consumers (76 percent) are extremely or somewhat concerned about increased costs from health insurer’s 2017 rate proposals.
Several major health insurers have indicated that they will seek premium increases in 2017 due to higher costs and lower than expected profits. The price hikes are causing anxiety among consumers of which nearly 65 percent report being more concerned about the total cost of their healthcare this year versus last year.
Rising costs are also forcing consumers to pay closer attention to their medical bills. Almost half of the respondents said they will pay more attention to their bills this year. It is also driving up interest in payment estimation tools. 7 out of 10 respondents said estimated costs would help to budget for payments. 57 percent also said they would return to a hospital or healthcare provider for future services if they were given billing estimates.
Gerry McCarthy, president of TransUnion Healthcare, said, “Consumers are feeling an increased burden from the rising costs for their healthcare premiums, co-pays and deductibles and are paying closer attention to their total cost responsibility. When insurers share their 2017 rate proposals, consumers will not only be interested in the announcements, but also what they can do to alleviate the price shock. We’ve learned that the billing process impacts the overall patient experience and price transparency is critical to ensuring patient satisfaction.”
In a blog post published earlier this year, eMDs predicted that higher out-of-pocket costs for patients would drive the need for patient estimation tools. Here are some recommendations from that post.
- Providers need efficient tools to estimate a patient’s out-pocket-costs. This includes accurate eligibility and co-pay details, up-to-date information on a patient’s deductible status, and specifics on what services are included in a patient’s coverage.
- Consumers may need help managing the cost of their care. Providers may require automation tools to facilitate any special payment arrangements.
- Existing workflows may need to be altered. For example, in the past a practice may not have verified insurance information until the patient arrived in the office. Administrators may now elect to verify insurance details in advance of scheduled appointments and advise patients when a large out-of-pocket cost is anticipated.
- Providers face greater financial risk. When patients struggle to pay for services, providers risk losing revenue and must dedicate additional resources for collection efforts.
We will continue to monitor the 2017 proposed rates as well as consumer sentiments to keep you informed of coming trends.