5 patient payment trends affecting payers, providers in 2016

As healthcare services continue to consume a great proportion of consumer spending, existing payment trends are starting to accelerate.

Here are five payment trends to know.

1. Consumers are driving industry change. According to a new report from PwC, medical cost trend is outpacing both economic inflation and income growth. The average health insurance premium for an individual has increased by 255 percent since 2006, according to CMS. This has made consumers increasingly sensitive to how much they spend on healthcare services and fueled consumer demand for things like cost estimates, billing clarity and cost comparison tools.

2. Transparency. Due to this cost sensitivity, patients want a healthcare experience where costs are clearly communicated and accounts are easy to pay. According to a recent report from InstaMed — 2015 Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report —, 91 percent of patients said it was important to know their financial responsibility prior to a provider visit. The InstaMed report examines and addresses key healthcare payment trends impacting providers, payers and consumers. Data was compiled from online surveys representing more than 100,000 healthcare providers, more than 3,000 payers and more than 2,575 consumers.

3. Increasing patient financial responsibility. This is not a new trend, however patient responsibility does continue to grow. About 74 percent of providers reported an increase in patient responsibility in 2015 compared to 2014, according to InstaMed. It is no surprise revenue cycle operations remain a top concern for 53 percent of providers as the amount of consumer-to-provider payments ticks upwards. From 2012 to 2015, the total volume of consumer payments to providers on the InstaMed Network increased by 94 percent, growing by 25 percent on average year over year. 

4. Individual insurance market. The Affordable Care Act made it possible for consumers to purchase health insurance plans directly from the payer, without a third-party to manage the relationship and administer recurring premium payments. This has changed how insurers conduct business and think about member experience and retention. Payers are still building the technical and operational infrastructure necessary to receive individual insurance payments, ensure accurate posting and reconciliation and promote payment clarity.  

5. Online payment options bring convenience, security concerns. Americans prefer to pay bills online. About 75 percent of consumers choose to pay their household bills through online payment channels, according to InstaMed. This desire carries over into healthcare — about 72 percent of consumers said they would prefer to pay medical bills electronically, with either payment cards or digital wallets. However, consumers are equally aware of recent healthcare data breaches, and 63 percent of consumers said they are concerned about online security for healthcare payments. Similarly, 83 percent of providers reported that payment security is a top concern when collecting patient payments.

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