A visit to the doctor is a difficult time for many patients. After all, people never go to a hospital or clinic without something bothering them. The whole situation is already stressful enough, but an even bigger surprise could arrive in the mail later: an unexpectedly high bill.

Most Americans do not know how much their healthcare will be billed until the procedure is done – and it’s too late to question it. There is a common impression that healthcare bills and charges are unexpectedly high, even unfairly inflated.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced some rules to protect consumers from surprise medical bills.

It’s the perfect time for owners, managers, and administrators at any healthcare facility to do something they should have done before: examine and re-evaluate their collection processes from scheduling appointments to performing exams or procedures.

The Price of Medical Care

Healthcare costs have risen over the past several decades, and there’s no expectation that they will begin to decline now. A recent study found that in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. healthcare cost nearly $3.8 trillion, or $11,582 per person!

A few years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) investigated the causes of this price fluctuation. The main one found to be the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs and ambulatory care.

Other factors are population growth and aging (as people get older and live longer, their healthcare becomes more expensive), disease prevalence or incidence, and excessive medical service utilization.

Medical emergencies also tend to raise prices. In an emergency, the patient will hardly have the option to choose the ambulance provider, the doctor who will perform the procedure, or the emergency room where he will be treated. All of this can throw the final bill sky-high.

There are also some hidden costs, such as the cost of employer-provided health insurance (something that helps keep wages low).

And since most hospitals and clinics still avoid providing cost estimates before a procedure is performed, patients never know how much of the final amount their insurance will cover and how much they will have to pay out-of-pocket when the bill finally arrives.

For all these reasons, many people have concerns regarding how they will afford healthcare.

Preventing an Unwelcome Surprise

A patient’s bill does not have to be a ticking time bomb or an unwelcome surprise. The best way to make the customer experience less traumatic is to practice a price transparency policy from the start. That is, as long as patients mark their appointment.

Here are some ways to try to prevent unexpected healthcare costs for your patients:

  • Discuss the financial expenses before moving forward on implementing treatment plans or recommended actions.
  • Confirm that patients are aware of the type of coverage they have before appointments.
  • Provide price estimates beforehand and cost breakdowns.
  • Explain the entire billing process transparently and patiently so that the consumer understands the costs of all the services to be performed.
  • Use cost estimation tools to calculate estimated charges before any procedure automatically.

In addition to these tips, upgrading your payment technology can help make the entire system more organized. An efficient revenue cycle system empowers healthcare providers to help patients anticipate the cost of their care, improve medical billing efficiency and prevent manual errors. Research revenue cycle management benefits to health providers to understand its importance.

Pricing Transparency as a Rule

Healthcare providers should have a sense of responsibility for making the payment and billing process more transparent and efficient. After all, Americans already spend a lot of money on healthcare every year and do not always know exactly what they are paying for or where exactly their money is going.

Adopting a transparent billing policy helps improve the medical billing process and your revenue cycle management. That way, you don’t traumatize the patient and still avoid those debts that extend indefinitely. More than anything, pricing transparency allows for a better relationship with your new and old patients, which can be a great upgrade in your hospital or clinic’s reputation.