Clinicians should involve patients in cost of care discussions

Docs Must Help Patients Take Responsibility for Medical Costs
Docs Must Help Patients Take Responsibility for Medical Costs

HealthDay News -- Given that increasing numbers of patients have high-deductible health insurance, practice staff need to help patients assume financial responsibility for costs relating to medical services and procedures, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

Noting that an increasing number of patients are choosing high-deductible health insurance plans, the article discusses the implications for small practices.

Patients with higher deductibles are responsible for higher out-of-pocket payments, and the risk that patients may not pay means these patients are potentially problematic. However, many patients forget to pay or are confused about what they owe. With the current payment method, payments are collected weeks or months after services are performed.

Practices should develop a way to calculate patient financial responsibility and talk about costs before procedures are carried out. Calculating payments in advance and providing patients with detailed information on costs will allow them to make payment arrangements. For patients in financial difficulty, verifying eligibility will allow them to understand their benefits.

"There needs to be internal training and education with staff about how to communicate upfront payments. Plus, there are plenty of payment plans possible that will work with patients with high-deductible plans," said Nate Davis, product manager with the health care information technology and management solutions company ZirMed.

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