Has the Slight Economic Recovery Affected Hospital’s Ability to Collect Cash?

by Phil C. Solomon on November 18, 2011

in Healthcare Revenue Cycle,Hospital Performance Improvement,Hospital Revenue Cycle,Hospital Revenue Cycle Improvement,Revenue Cycle Management

A recent report from Thomson Reuters has indicated due to our slight economic recovery, a positive paradigm is expected to affect a patients’ ability to pay for their own care due. The latest Thomson Reuters Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index indicates that Americans were growing more confident about their ability to pay for healthcare over the next three months. This is a departure from the prior three months, when many reported greater difficulty handling their medical bills.

The index surveys about 3,000 people nationwide regarding their ability to pay their medical bills. The January survey indicated a score of 99, up from the all-time low of 96 in December 2010.

“There seems to be a return to perhaps cautious optimism about the next three months,” said Julie Shook, product director for the Healthcare & Science business at Thomson Reuters. “They are predicting a significant improvement in their ability to pay for and access healthcare services.”

If we set aside the latest polling data, has anyone seen evidence of this positive trend? Are Hospital’s truly seeing an improvement in their ability to collect cash?

What I am seeing and hearing from hospitals and health systems across the U.S. is a continuation of the struggles in collecting self pay cash. This trend shows no signs of lessening. Many hospitals have seen their self pay population increase two and three fold over the past two to three years. A “perfect storm” is occurring and any provider not preparing for the increased challenge in collecting deductibles, co pays and self pay cash will find themselves scrambling for solutions.

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