Medical debt causes healthcare deferral

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More than a third of patients with medical debt avoid receiving the care they need because of this debt.

High medical debt prevents a large portion of Americans from receiving the health care they need.

According to a press release from credit reporting company TransUnion Healthcare, 35% of patients with unpaid medical debt say these bills have deterred them from seeking care in the past 12 months.

“It’s scary and sad to know that people are giving up their physical and mental health for fear of ruining their financial health with medical treatment,” said Jonathan Wiik, director of healthcare strategy for TransUnion Healthcare, in the press release. “By communicating with patients early on, helping them understand the cost of their care and their payment options, including financial assistance, health systems can improve patient outcomes as well as patient outcomes. ‘hospital.

The company also notes a 55% increase in the number of financial aid transactions processed by TransUnion between September 2020 and September 2021. This indicates that hospitals are more proactive in their work with patients to understand their financial needs and present. the appropriate options, according to the release. said.

“By communicating with patients early on, helping them understand the cost of care and their payment options, including financial assistance, health systems can improve patient outcomes as well as patient outcomes. hospital, ”says Wiik.

Using data from millions of financial aid transactions from more than 1,000 hospitals and doctor’s offices, the company found that these transactions had increased year over year since it began collecting data. data as of September 2018. Since then, the number of financial aid transactions has increased by 270%, the statement said.

The number of financial aid transactions has likely increased due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, but other factors such as billing practices may also play a role. Previously, the company had found that 70 percent of patients said knowing the costs before a procedure would help them anticipate costs and budget for payments, and an additional 65 percent said they would make at least one partial payment if the provider provided an advance estimate, the statement said.

“These data reflect the increased financial pressure on healthcare systems as well as on patients struggling with the burden of high healthcare costs,” said Wiik. “We recommend hospitals to confidently engage patients and increase transparency and communication around billing, starting with providing patients with a clear understanding of the cost of care upon admission, and then streamlining financial clearance and charity scouting throughout the income cycle. “


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