Are You Killing Your Patients With Kindness?
Hospital executives often chose to forgive patients their debts and write them off as bad debts. It’s an approach that worked well when patients were only responsible for 2-3%. But times have changed and patients are now responsible for 30-35%. The current approach, while meaning well, is fundamentally flawed. In fact it is the worst possible example of a lose-lose solution.
- The patient loses because the hospital goes through the entire debt collection cycle before forgiving the debt. So the patient suffers the anxiety of receiving a bill they can’t pay, escalating demands for payment, referral to a debt collection agency and loss of credit rating – before the debt is finally written off. The patient may not pay eventually but the process lasts months, it’s stressful and it leaves a permanent stain on the patient.
- Many patients lose because worrying about high medical costs leads to delaying treatment, being unable to afford medication and adversely affecting their health.
- The patient doesn’t get the option to make payment at a rate they can afford. Most Americans are proud people who want to pay their debts if they are given some simple assistance. Wiping out bad debt as the last resort after a protracted time reduces patients’ self-respect and denies them the chance to pay their debts off at a pace they can afford.
- The community loses out because thousands, or tens of thousands of community members are under financial and health stress.
- Communities also lose out when hospitals are forced to close because their life has been bled dry by bad debt – patients have to travel and incur additional costs when hospitals close and the local economy suffers when a large employer like a hospital closes.
- Hospitals lose out. Bad debt can cause a hospital to close – as more than 380 have done in the past 10 years. It significantly reduces revenue, meaning hospitals have less money to invest in equipment, staff and necessary expansions. It means staff are under more pressure and don’t get paid as much as they could.
- Hospitals also lose out when patient outcomes are affected by lack of investment and when patient satisfaction drops, leading to further loss of revenue.
The practice of strenuously attempting to collect patient debt before finally writing it off is an almost perfect example of a well-meaning death spiral.
A better way forward
There is a better way. One that protects patients from the ravages of bad debt, that helps them pay their obligations at a rate they can afford and that gives them psychological and financial protection.
It protects your hospital from the many problems caused by bad debt and it frees up millions of dollars that can be invested in better patient outcomes, more up to date equipment, more skilled staff, higher wages and, in for-profit hospitals, higher investor returns.
It’s called VestaPay.
Prevention is better than cure
VestaPay helps patients meet their obligations at a rate that works for their unique circumstances. It largely eliminates patient revenue losses, while also protecting nearly all patients against the ravages of bad debt. It also:
- Secures nearly 100% of the patients’ financial obligation on or before treatment.
- Provides patients with an affordable monthly healthcare payment budget.
- Makes sure patients can afford their payments and have confidence they are being treated fairly and accurately.
- Makes it easier for hospital staff to administer – once a patient is enrolled the system is fully automated, making life easy for staff and enabling patients to view their current status at a glance. The entire patient financial lifecycle is automated.
Now you can “take care of your patients” not just clinically, but financially as well, without racking up millions in uncollectable debt and without creating thousands of sick, stressed-out debt defaulters. You can invest more, contribute even more to the communities you serve and “Do no harm”, financially, medically or psychologically.
VestaPay – A financial lifeline for your patients,
A financial lifeline for your hospital
For more information about your financial lifeline, call VestaCare at 858.454.7800.