Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coming Soon to a Hospital Near You . . .

[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]

No health insurance? Can't afford to pay your bill? No problem. The hospital will help you finance your bill.

a growing number of hospitals, working with a range of financial companies, are squeezing revenue from patients with little or no health insurance.

Why would a hospital work with a finance company? Because it is more humane than breaking your other leg to get payment for services rendered.

And there is this . . .

Collecting from "self-pay" patients like Dial has long been the bane of medical administrators. When they don't get paid immediately, hospitals typically recover around 10¢ on the dollar owed, even when they hire collection specialists.

How many businesses could survive by collecting only 10% of the revenue owed? Suppose your boss said your paycheck would be cut by 90% until they can catch up on revenues. How well would that go over?

So hospitals and clinics are bringing in more sophisticated help. They are transferring patient accounts wholesale to finance experts, banks, credit-card companies, and even private equity firms.

This comment caught my eye as it runs contrary to the usual thought process.

Among hospitals, nonprofits like Hot Spring County Medical Center are more likely than for-profit rivals to join forces with finance firms. Fewer nonprofits have effective in-house collection departments,

Not for profit hospitals are jumping on the bandwagon. Interesting development.

"The world of $5 sent to the hospital and they will never send me to collections, never sue me—that world has gone away,"

It is time for this old wives tale to go away. Medical providers need cash to continue to serve their communities. If patients are going to act irresponsibly, when they have the means to cover their bills, then it is time for them to share the pain.

Hardly a week goes by that I do not talk to someone without insurance who is mostly tire kicking. They are healthy enough to qualify and certainly have the income but they feel they don't need insurance "because I am not sick". If they can pick up a plan to cover their doc & meds for around $60 per month they will buy. Otherwise they will just pass and "pray they don't get sick".

Well I hope they don't get sick either. When they do I will end up paying their bill while they stiff the hospital & docs.

Unless of course the hospital decides to sell their account to a finance company.
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