Medical Bills Are Tough to Pay

by Phil C. Solomon on March 7, 2012

in Healthcare Revenue Cycle,Self Pay Collections

Americans Is Having A Hard Time Paying Medical Bills
By JULIE ROVNER

While politicians and soon, the Supreme Court, are fighting about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a new government study finds that a growing number of Americans is having difficulty coping with the high cost of health care.

During the first six months of 2011, one in three people lived in a family that had trouble paying its medical bills within the previous year; was currently paying a medical bill over time; or currently had a medical bill the family was unable to pay at all. That’s according to a survey of more than 50,000 people by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier studies had shown that one in five Americans had trouble paying their medical bills. But this study is larger and asked questions – such as whether people are paying medical bills over time – that researchers have not asked previously.

The news was not pretty.

Not surprisingly, those with lower incomes had the most difficult time paying their bills. The “near-poor” — those with incomes just above the poverty line — were somewhat more likely (45.8 percent) to experience problems with medical bills than those with incomes actually below the poverty line (41.3 percent). That is likely because at least some of the very poorest people have Medicaid, which generally does not allow health care providers to bill its beneficiaries.

What was somewhat surprising: Even those over age 65 reported having troubled paying for medical care. Nineteen percent of those between age 65 and 74 and 12 percent of those over age 75 reported some financial burden for medical care, even though that population is almost universally covered by the Medicare program. The study found those problems were, like those for the under-65 population, more likely to be suffering by those with lower incomes.

Policymakers may need to pay attention to those numbers as they look at ways to overhaul the Medicare program to shore up its finances for the oncoming retirement of 78 million baby boomers.

Let’s face it, the self-pay financial class and the challenges associated with collecting medical bills is not going away in the near term. Healthcare providers need answers and solutions to help them handle this growing dilemma. Collecting medical bills is partly and art and to a certain extent science. When you combine scientific scoring and the personal touch of someone who cares, a provider has a better chance of collecting what is due to them.

If you would like real feedback and suggested solutions for the issues of self-pay collections and administrating financial assistance, I’d love to connect with you and help in any way I can. Contact me at philcsolomon@gmail.com or 404-849-8065. Thank you for reading my blog. My goal with my blog is to highlight pressing healthcare revenue cycle issues and offer possible solutions. My opinions and ideas come from years of experience working with some of the industry’s brightest revenue cycle management minds.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Amedar Consulting Group August 27, 2012 at 4:26 PM

I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks , I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your site?

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Phil C. Solomon Phil C. Solomon August 27, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Thanks for the comment. I usually post every other day or so. Follow me on Twitter @philcsolomon.
Best,
Phil

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Matthew C. Kriner November 26, 2012 at 5:02 PM

I just want to say I am just very new to blogging and site-building and honestly liked you’re web site. Probably I’m want to bookmark your blog . You surely come with fabulous writings. Thanks a bunch for sharing with us your webpage.

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Phil C. Solomon Phil C. Solomon November 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM

It’s my pleasure. Let’s keep the conversations and ideas flowing!

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