How can you overcome the obstacle of High Deductibles?

What you need to know about the trend in high-deductible insurance plans and how you can provide patient financing for those in severe need.

Today, U.S. patients are paying unprecedented out-of-pocket medical fees with high deductible plans. When patients are unable to reach their deductibles, they avoid seeking medical care until their situation becomes dire and dangerous.

Although physicians want to provide treatment to all patients, taking on patients who can’t afford services often results in service providers shouldering the costs. Service providers can help patients overcome the obstacle of meeting their deductibles, by utilizing patient financing options.

Rising trend in high-deductible plans

High-deductible insurance plans have grown in popularity over the past decade. The percentage of covered workers enrolled in high-deductible plans spiked to 48% in 2018, compared to only 17% in 2009, as you’ll see on the chart below. 

Patients unable to meet deductibles, pay out of pocket

Personal costs have also risen: the average insured patient spent $5,277 on health spending in 2016. These patients are left struggling to pay their medical bills, and have to make health decisions based on finances instead of need. Patients avoid seeking medical care until they can no longer work or take care of their families, simply because they cannot afford treatment. Patients cannot even access their insurance benefits because they can’t pass their deductible amount.

A  2019 Kaiser Family Foundation/LA Times survey of adults with employer-sponsored insurance found that:

  • Affordability problems were a key issue for those with higher deductibles.
  • The most difficult affordability problem (for adults with employer coverage) was the ability to pay for medical bills before meeting their deductible.
  • Adults with higher deductibles were more likely to experience problems with affording care. They were also more likely to delay needed care than those with lower deductibles.
  • Among those with high deductibles, 53% reported having less in savings than the amount of their deductible.

These high-deductible insurance plans put the burden on the patients to cover a large part of their treatment costs, and many are unable to pay for necessary care. Rising deductibles have also led to a rise in out-of-pocket costs for patients. People with employer-sponsored coverage are left to pay large upfront costs, as is evident in the data tracking out-of-pocket spending from 2006 to 2007.

The higher the deductible, the less likely patients are to pay what they owe, according to an analysis of 400,000 patient claims by The Advisory Board. Patients only have a 36% propensity to pay when their deductible size is over $5,000, compared to 68% for patients with a deductible size of $500 to $999, which you can see in the graph by The Advisory Board

Providers pay the price

Due to the rising trend in high-deductible insurance plans, providers end up in a tough position. The deductible is an obstacle that prevents providers from receiving a much higher payout from insurances. If the patient cannot pass the deductible, they can’t access their insurance money for treatment. 

Healthcare providers are left to deny treatment to patients who cannot afford it, or absorb the costs to the detriment of their business. Providers have to spend more time and cost to collect payments, which in many cases ends up in loss when patients stop making payments. Consequently, doctors suffer from loss in revenue for their practices just for providing care to patients in severe need.

What This Means for You

Medical providers should not have to pay the price for unfair insurance plans. Providers should not be responsible for administering treatment to patients in need and putting your business at risk. Denefits can finance customers for treatment to reach their deductibles, so they can access their insurance for additional medical services in the future. 

How can you help patients overcome the deductible obstacle, and provide needed care?

  1. Provide financing options: Patients can meet their deductible and access their insurance benefits using supplemental financing options. While traditional lenders deny more than half of all applicants, Denefits is able to finance patients denied by traditional lenders by not requiring a credit check for approval. Providers can finance patients with Denefits’ innovative patient financing system, to provide treatment and get paid for services.
  2. Build relationships and trust with patients: Talk to your patients about the importance of coming in for preventative care visits. Encourage them to schedule regular appointments to treat health issues before they become dire, rather than waiting until their medical condition is so severe that services will be even more expensive than if they had come in for earlier treatment.

Social contributions: Patients struggling to pay medical expenses often turn to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to get help from friends, family, and generous strangers. However, crowdfunding sites do not always verify the information and there is no accountability system for contributors to know how the donations are actually being spent. Denefits offers Social Healthcare Payments: an option that allows financing customers to share their stories and receive donations that go directly toward their medical costs.

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