There’s a huge opportunity to change that by changing the way providers connect patients to $30 billion in philanthropic medical financial aid – a process largely managed via Google searches, emails, sticky notes, paper application packets and checks.
“You can’t just be doing a little bit of patient assistance with the current market dynamics,” said Todd Helmink, who is the Head of Strategic Partnerships for Atlas Health, a VC-backed health tech company digitalizing the process of matching patients with philanthropic medical financial aid. “These are real people with real problems making decisions between life and death, or not paying rent or their mortgage because they have to pay their medical bills.”
Atlas Health’s technology and services simplify that search and qualification process, from screening, to matching, to enrollment and finally through reimbursement. Providers have seen reimbursements improve by as much as a factor of 5. In a shared mission to advance affordability in healthcare payments, Atlas Health is partnering with Flywire to extend capabilities to its extensive client base, which comprises 4 of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. and many of the major, complex health systems.
Atlas Health’s technology and mission is complementary to Flywire’s affordability suite. Whether it's via self-service payment plans, other integrated financing options offered by Flywire, or a medical aid package facilitated through Atlas Health, providers can ensure that they help as many patients as possible.
“Similar to what Flywire does, we are ensuring patients can afford care that can be very high cost,” Helmink said. “With the right strategic partners like Flywire, where we have shared mission, shared audience and shared values, we can reach our goal to become the most widely used philanthropic platform in the health system market.”
That mission is critical. 2022 began with four straight months of negative operating margins for hospitals and ended with over 20 health systems reporting losses. 23 million patients struggle with significant medical debt.
The stakes for matching patients with real payment solutions are extremely high.
- Cancer survivors, for instance, are 2.5x more likely than those without a history of cancer to say they’ve experienced financial hardships or reported bankruptcy.
- For employer-sponsored health insurance programs, out-of-pocket costs for employees increased by 5.2% from 2021 to 2022, and the average cost to employers increased by 6.5%.
- Self-pay-after-insurance was the leading source of bad debt in 2021, according to an analysis by Crowe Revenue Cycle Analytics, accounting for 57.6% of bad debt compared to 11.1% in 2018.
- Most households’ savings are less than the maximum out of pocket limit for most private insurance plans, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
By securely accessing data within the EHR system, Atlas Health technology matches patients with relevant philanthropic aid programs from more than 20,000 programs and organizations across the country. From there, providers can rely on their own staff or Atlas Health’s team of patient advocate experts to counsel and walk patients through their eligible financial assistance options. Because Atlas Health can be integrated with the hospital’s EHR system, the process of reimbursement is largely automated.
“One of the major ROIs is the ability to screen, match and enroll more patients, and thus driving more funds back into the hospital,” Helmink said. “Without the staff to really run a fully robust patient assistance program, we help make our clients more efficient.”
That combination of driving real solutions to healthcare access and affordability, and delivering outstanding ROI for clients makes the partnership very exciting for Flywire.
“When you are dealing with an affordability crisis of this magnitude, the best thing the industry can do is come together and bring humanity back into the patient experience,” said John Talaga, EVP and GM of Flywire. “That is exactly what we strive to do in our partnership with Atlas Health. Their focus on leaving no patient behind complements our approach to affordability; and not only that, we each draw inspiration from what we each do for providers and for patients. We couldn’t be more aligned.”