The American healthcare system is a nightmare for most patients. Navigating healthcare costs is almost impossible due to the lack of transparency, changing insurance fee schedules, and a general lack of financial knowledge among patients.
Technology has changed how almost every industry operates, and the change has been rapid and far-reaching. Healthcare is no different. In general, people are resistant to change on both individual and institutional levels. Usually, a law must be implemented and enforced, or a strong incentive offered to get large groups of people to change how they do things.
The American healthcare system is touted as one of the best in the world, able to provide treatments and medications that are not possible in other countries. However, accessing that superlative healthcare is not easy for the average American, as social and economic barriers to healthcare access prevent all but the wealthiest and best insured from enjoying the full spectrum of available services. The behavioral healthcare industry is no exception to this.
Healthcare, including behavioral healthcare, is a highly complex environment for patients and it normally does not deliver a pleasant patient financial experience. Complicated bills, mountains of paperwork, and no one is there to help you navigate the chaos; and then there are the collection calls.
Obviously, Healthcare needs a new playbook when it comes to patient financial management. Unfortunately, in most healthcare companies there is no patient financial management department, or even a Director, manager, or Vice president of Patient Financial Management. In more simple terms, healthcare is broken down into three segments, admission, clinical care, and billing. Each segment has a primary objective, unfortunately being responsible for the patient’s financial experience isn’t one of them. If no one within the healthcare system owns patient financial management from start to finish, the patient financial experience will always be something less than.
This bears repeating: good patient financial experiences should be standard practice. Currently, they are anything but standard.
Sadly, for many people, patient experience is a matter of life and death. Every decision made in the healthcare sector (whether it’s how frequently a patient should be seen, or when to administer treatment) has an impact far beyond that decision point. And every provider, naturally, wants the best outcomes for their patients. Achieving these outcomes requires consideration of every aspect of the patient experience — from the bank to the bedside.
Since December of 2019, when the Chinese government reported the first cases of a novel coronavirus in the Hubei Province of China, COVID-19 has escalated into a global pandemic. While most people who contract this virus do not experience severe symptoms, and more than half of the infected population has already recovered, the virus still represents a serious public health concern. Moreover, as the world determines how best to prevent, contain, and manage the pandemic, there are separate political and socioeconomic consequences that must be considered.
Given our active interest in the intersections of health and socioeconomics, we’d like to examine the financial impact of the coronavirus on patients in the United States. We’ll walk through the latest updates, including those from President Trump’s March 12th address to the nation, and discuss the hurdles that US citizens may encounter as they work to prevent, test for, and treat COVID-19.
Ultimately, we argue that this unfortunate pandemic illuminates the importance of transparent pre-care patient engagement. When patients are aware of their treatment options they can avoid surprise medical billing for lifesaving care.