New healthcare trends breeding payment changes
Healthcare in the United States is becoming a consumerized industry. Recent developments, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, are coupling with more consumer-focused healthcare plans to create a changing environment in the sector, thus forcing medical facilities and payment processing providers to change.
According to a 2010 report by the Mercator Advisory Group, U.S. residents were billed approximately $200 billion for healthcare expenses in 2010. Just 20 percent of those remissions were performed through electronic systems. Furthermore, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will add approximately 30 million people to the list of those insured and participating in healthcare programs. In response, payment processing firms, healthcare agencies, insurance providers and medical facilities are realizing that paper-based systems are no longer viable payment solutions.
The U.S. Bank recently announced its intentions to offer new services in light of these new industry trends. The financial institution will deploy two advanced payment processing offerings - Payment Navigator and Payment Consolidator - which will help healthcare organizations depend more heavily on electronic remittance systems.
"Unlike most industries where payment is expected at the point of sale, the healthcare payment system was built around hospitals and providers working through complex, manual processes to get paid for their services by insurance companies. The system wasn’t designed for consumers to easily understand their financial obligations or for providers to easily collect payment from them," said Ralph Bernstein, senior vice president of U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems’ healthcare payment solutions division.
Bernstein also said these streamlined remittance programs that integrate electronic tools are essential because patients now have more control over how their healthcare payments are managed. Because consumers are more directly responsible to pay for their medical expenses, solutions must evolve to streamline the process and make it easier for patients to complete the remittance process, Bernstein explained.
Changes in the healthcare industry are such that the General Service Bureau and Early Out Services, sister companies specializing in healthcare payments processing and recovery solutions, saw fit to publicly declare their intentions to remain active in the industry. Robert Leavitt, chairman of the board for the two organizations, said economic and political changes are set to drastically alter industry conditions, but the two companies remain committed to providing industry-specific payment processing solutions that are strategically designed to meet regulatory standards.