Blazing A Better Path To Affordability In Ohio

Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or driving around in a fancy car, the fear over your next health care bill can be palpable. A recent study found that 26 percent of adults in the US say they or a family member struggled to pay a medical bill over the past year. Even a bill of $500 or less can be devastating for a family trying to keep their head above water. Despite the best efforts of the pre and post-service staff, most families are still totally unprepared for when the bill comes. And it usually keeps coming. First from the hospital, then the physician group, and so on. One bill after another piling up.

Despite delivering some of the highest levels of clinical care in the country, hospitals in Ohio are experiencing the same issue as everywhere else in the nation when it comes to patient affordability. According to Altarum’s Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey, which examined affordability in Ohio particularly as it relates to surprise medical bills, one in two Ohioans have experienced healthcare affordability issues within the past year, roughly 53%.

The problem is only getting worse as premiums and out-of-pocket expenses in Ohio have risen to higher than the national average. In fact, for the nonelderly, Ohioans are finding themselves in the top third of the nation in regards to high out-of-pocket expenses.

Affordability is becoming such an issue that patients simply aren’t paying. ¼ of Ohioans who received an unexpected medical bill left the issue unresolved.This is causing a wide range of issues for Ohio hospitals and is forcing them to make tough choices when it comes to recommending care.

“When people do not have adequate access to healthcare because of affordability, doctors have to treat the complications of disease rather than help people to stay healthy,” said House of Representatives member Dr Beth Liston who has made healthcare affordability one of her top priorities. “This increases the cost of healthcare and leads to worse health outcomes.”

Worry over affordability can also affect Ohioans when choosing to receive care altogether. 27% of Ohioans have admitted that they have avoided receiving care or going to the doctor due to fear of hospital expenses.

Ohio Hospitals know that they need to do better and are actively seeking out different solutions for how to tackle affordability and price transparency in their region.

Kettering Health Network, a collection of 8 hospitals and 120 out-patient facilities, embraced new technologies in the revenue cycle as a way to help combat affordability in their market. By leveraging Simplee’s proprietary propensity-to-pay models and patient financial engagement platform, they are able to have better insights into patients’ financial situations and are able to offer payment solutions that are tailored to each individual patient’s financial needs. Moreover, patients are able to opt into these tailored options themselves, which helps keep them from feeling powerless in the financial process by putting the tools directly into their hands.

“We wanted to use the power of personalization to meet patient financial needs. Simplee is really helping us deliver a consumer focused patient financial experience.”- Joann Yohn, retired VP of Revenue Cycle.

Ohioans have responded positively. Since partnering with Simpee, Kettering Health Network’s has seen an 87% increase in self-service payments and their NPS, a measure of consumer satisfaction and loyalty, has risen to 43. Better than that of Mercedez Benz.

Kettering Health’s approach has proved that by arming patients with the proper education and tools to make better financial decisions, Ohio hospitals can improve the satisfaction among their patient population while also collecting more.