40% of physicians failed to collect at least $31.7k in 2014, study finds

Collecting self-pay accounts is just as difficult for individual providers as hospitals and health systems, according to a new study by athenahealth.

The report issued Aug. 28 is the second from athenahealth's Peak Performance Initiative. The initiative gives researchers access to athenahealth client data to analyze healthcare provider performance and share insights across a national platform.

Here are six report findings.

1. Patient financial obligation accounted for 18 percent of provider revenue.

2. The number of Americans who purchased high-deductible health plans rose from 10 million in 2010 to 17.5 million in 2014, or a 75 percent increase. 

3. Out of Americans who purchased mid-range deductible plans — $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for a family, on average — about 37 percent of households' deductibles exceeded their liquid assets.

4. Out of Americans who purchased high-range deductible plans — $2,500 for an individual and $5,000 for a family, on average — about 49 percent of households' deductibles exceeded their liquid assets.

5. About 50 percent of physicians on the athenahealth network failed to collect at least $23,000 from patients in 2014. About 40 percent of physicians failed to collect at least $31,713 from patients in 2014.

6. Healthcare providers of similar sizes can have dramatically different collection rates. Athenahealth found an average physician at a 500-provider health system had nearly 44 percent more uncollected pay compared to a physician at a different 500-provider system. This signifies how a provider's unique payer mix, service costs, geographic situation and service offerings impact finances.

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