When a person goes to the hospital, he or she has no idea of how much money he or she will owe for the services received. This is unlike almost any other interaction that a person has with the service industry, and it can cause a lot of worry for the patient who needs medical care. There are several things that hospital administrators and billing professionals can do in order to reduce the individual’s confusion and anxiety.

Patients Prefer Itemized Bills

Hospital bills are difficult for even the smartest people to figure out. The statements are confusing. Hospitals should itemize the bills so that people know what they are paying for and why. Consider offering a payment plan from the get-go. Most bills do not show a monthly payment plan option, only the total amount due.

This is Probably the Biggest Bill They’ll Pay This Year

When people go to the hospital, they don’t know how much their share of the bill will be. The economic impact of being injured can be difficult to calculate. For many people, there is a big sticker shock when the bill arrives. Even if they have health insurance, the bill might be more than they can afford to pay.

Medical Bills and Bankruptcy are Linked

Medical bills are the cause of about 60 percent of personal bankruptcy filings. If patients express difficulty about being able to pay what they owe, it is in their best interests and the hospital’s best interests to negotiate. Making it easy for patients to negotiate their bills reduces stress and increases the chances that the amount due will not go to collections. The hospital gets its money faster, and the person would not have the ordeal of a bankruptcy.

Inform Patients of the Consequences of Nonpayment

It is also important for a facility and billing administrators to inform patients of what can happen if they do not make an effort to pay their bills. Patients should be informed if their bills will be sent to a collection agency after a certain date of no payment. Patients also need to be informed of whether or not the unpaid balance will be reported to the credit bureaus. This may affect their decision to make partial payments or to declare bankruptcy because of their large debts.

The easier it is for a patient to understand their hospital bills, the more willing they are to pay. Hospitals can do their part by clearly itemizing the bill. They can also be open to payment plans and to balance negotiations.
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