Tags: patients | upfront | high deductibles | healthcare

More Patients Asked to Pay Upfront As Result of Obamacare

By    |   Monday, 17 Nov 2014 10:01 AM

As the number of employees being shifted into high deductible healthcare plans rises, the practice of upfront payment for emergency and non-emergency care has been spreading, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

"The relatively slow growth in premiums this year is good news for employers and workers, though many workers now pay more when they get sick as deductibles continue to rise and skin-in-the-game insurance gradually becomes the norm," said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D., said after the release of their 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey.

Hospitals have been adopting a more aggressive approach when it comes to asking patients to pay upfront for services as their debts have increased.

"The bad debts are just going through the roof. That's been a trend," said Nancy Galvagni, senior vice president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, an industry trade and advocacy group, told The Courier-Journal.

According to the Kentucky Health Association, the bad debt total for Kentucky hospitals has risen from $334 million in 2008 to $659 million in 2012.

Nationwide, hospitals provided $41 billion in care for which no payment was received in 2011, up from $3.9 billion in 1980, according to a January report by the American Hospital Association.

While increasing deductibles may help employers and insurers limit premium hikes, the burden is shifted to the individual patient, which increases the chances hospitals will not be fully reimbursed for the costs of services. Therefore, more are asking for payment upfront.

"Today's high deductibles are tomorrow's bad debt," says Daniel Steingart, an assistant vice president and Analyst at Moody's in a March report, "US Healthcare Reform: Three Risks Reduce Credit Positives for Not-for-Profit Hospitals."

The Kaiser Family Foundation survey estimates are that since 2006 the number of people in high deductible plans has risen from one in 25 to one in five.

However, the survey found little change in other forms of cost sharing, including co-payments for in-network physician visits and for prescription drugs ($11 for generics, $31 for preferred brands, $53 for non-preferred brands and $83 for specialty drugs).

"I was surprised and frustrated," Barbara Retkowski, a 59-year-old retiree, told Bloomberg News. "I had to pull money out of my savings."

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As the number of employees being shifted into high deductible healthcare plans rises, the practice of upfront payment for emergency and non-emergency care has been spreading, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.
patients, upfront, high deductibles, healthcare
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2014-01-17
Monday, 17 Nov 2014 10:01 AM
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