SPRINGFIELD, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than three-quarters, or 77%, of healthcare consumers say it’s important or very important they know their costs before treatment, and 53% want to discuss financing options before care. However, the vast majority of healthcare providers are not satisfying these consumer demands, according to the HealthFirst Financial Patient Survey, a survey conducted by ORC International and commissioned by HealthFirst Financial, a national leader in patient financing.
Only 18% of 1,011 U.S. adults across the country reported that any of their healthcare providers had spoken to them at any time about patient financing options in the past two years. Patients are especially interested in affordable payment programs, with 57% saying it’s important or very important that their healthcare provider offer ways to extend payments over time with no interest charged. Yet just 8% received zero- or low-interest financing from a healthcare provider.
“These findings highlight a huge gap in what patients want and what hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare providers are delivering,” said KaLynn Gates, President and Corporate Counsel of HealthFirst Financial. “Providers that care for the financial as well as clinical needs of their communities are much more likely to thrive in this era of rising out-of-pocket costs and growing competition for patients among traditional and non-traditional providers.”
Disappointed patients are prepared to vote with their feet. A full 40% of millennials, aged 18 to 36, said they’d be very likely or likely to switch providers if a competitor offered low- or zero-interest financing for medical bills. They aren’t alone: overall, 29% said they’d move to different providers that offer attractive payment programs.
People at all income brackets worry about covering the cost of care:
- 42% are very concerned or concerned about their ability to pay out-of-pocket medical bills in the next two years.
- The number jumps to 54% among those with incomes of less than $35,000 a year, and falls to 24% among those with incomes of $100,000 or more annually.
As a result, consumers also want know what they will owe as early as possible:
- 77% said it’s important or very important that providers give the cost before a procedure.
- 63% said it was important or very important that providers publish pricing lists of common procedures.
With consumer debt on the rise, people have even less room in their budget for medical bills. Not surprisingly, anxiety over covering unexpected medical expenses rises with the amount:
- 53% voice concern about the ability to pay a medical bill of less than $1,000.
- 35% worried about the ability to pay a bill of less than $500.
- 16% are concerned about the ability to pay a bill of less than $250.
Importantly, though, patients are looking for payment options not only for large medical expenses, but smaller ones too. More than half, or 52%, would first be interested in a multi-year, no-interest financing option from their healthcare provider for a bill below $1,000, while 34% would first be interested in such a financing option for a bill below $500 and 18% for a bill below $250.
“We commissioned this independent survey to learn more about how consumers are coping with their medical expenses,” said Gates. “Without providing and communicating these viable financing options, they are likely to delay care or switch providers to find financial help. In either case, providers will be hurt by those choices, and they need to develop a strategy to meet these consumers’ needs.”
The HealthFirst Financial Patient Survey was conducted by ORC International among a sample of 1,011 adults comprising 504 men and 507 women 18 years of age and older. The online omnibus survey was conducted August 7-9, 2017. Completed interviews are weighted by age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. adult population.
A report presenting detailed findings of the HealthFirst Financial Patient Survey is available from HealthFirst Financial.
About HealthFirst Financial
Founded in 2001, HealthFirst Financial is a national patient financing leader that has helped hundreds of thousands of patients afford care while improving the financial performance of healthcare organizations. HealthFirst Financial is the first and only company awarded the prestigious Peer Review Designation from the Healthcare Financial Management Association for its patient financing programs following a rigorous evaluation of the overall effectiveness, quality and value of its payment solutions. Oregon-based HealthFirst Financial patient financing programs are available at more than 220 healthcare facilities across the United States.