Concerns about health care costs may cause patients to delay treatment, including imaging studies that could result in life-saving care due to early screening. It’s no secret that concerns about the cost of health services are on the rise. But, some medical professionals are less aware that these concerns may lead patients to delaying medical treatment.
Fifteen percent of all consumers are now enrolled in a Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) according to 2015 research [anchor link]. It’s also clear from this research that CDHP enrollees are demonstrating cost-conscious behavior (EBRI). We know that a very high percentage of DC Metro regional consumers not on high deductible plans (HDHP) or CDHPs in our region are using flex accounts for medical spending. The behavior that often accompanies this kind of consumer involvement can lead to delays in securing important health care services over cost concerns. There is broad agreement among groups that include the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), Families U.S.A., the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the Commonwealth Fund, and the EBRI that health care delays result in patients having more advanced medical conditions at the time they are treated, leading to increased costs.
http://www.archbright.com/news/211663/15-Percent-of-U.S.-population-now-enrolled-in-CDHPs-survey-shows.htm] as of 2015.
There is an informal cost-benefit thought process going on in the minds of consumers as they consider health care choices. While they don’t use actuarial studies or economic formulas, they are weighing the costs and value of medical treatment just the same.
One in five U.S. households has postponed or cancelled medical care over the past year–up from 15.9 percent in 2006. Nearly one quarter of respondents report that cost was the primary reason. [link]
Patients who have traditional health care plans report greater satisfaction with their health care, and much of that is due to the lower out-of-pocket costs. The level of deductible, “out of pocket” or “out of flex-plan” costs weighs heavy on the minds of patients as they consider health care. Efforts to manage and mitigate this pressure helps patients to make better choices about completing recommended care and seeking important screenings.
RAF Efforts to Keep Imaging Affordable
RAF has taken innovative steps to ensure that affordability and payment management are a priority throughout its approach to service. By providing a single bill for imaging studies, and the opportunity for payment plans, RAF has given patients greater peace of mind and control over their health care costs.
“Throughout its history, RAF has sought to deliver the highest value and quality while finding ways to help patients manage costs. We believe that quality matched with affordability is imperative for the communities we serve in this region.”
Ed Swager, CEO
Single Billing Reduces Complexity and Puts Patients in Control
Medical imaging provided at the four outpatient locations of Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg (MIF) at Lee’s Hill, Fredericksburg, the Imaging Center for Women, and Stafford is managed through a single patient bill. Unlike many traditional imaging providers–who send both a technology bill and a bill from the physician–RAF and MIF patients can expect to see all of their out-of-pocket expenses reflected in a single invoice. RAF believes that this approach mirrors the realities of financial management that most consumers already expect. No consumer wants to get two bills for anything, especially for expenses related to their health care.
“Reducing the complexity of the billing process and ensuring that patients don’t receive two separate invoices goes a long way towards increasing patient confidence and reducing negative anticipation. This approach requires internal strategic coordination, but it is well worth it when we consider the benefit it brings to the patient in terms of helping with cost management.”
Chris Snyder, Director of Technology Services
Affordable Payment Plans Help Imaging Studies Fit the Budget
The decision to delay important screening or diagnostic care can be avoided if we can help reduce anxiety about the potential of unexpected costs. By offering payment plans, patients can find the best fit for their budget.
RAF has developed payment plans for all of its imaging services in the outpatient settings offered at their four regional MIF locations. Patients are made aware of these through our company website and at service counters in our facilities.
“We want to work with patients to find an affordable solution for them: we discuss how the costs of the imaging they need can be paid over a period of months, with a minimal amount payable at the time of service. This approach takes all the mystery out of paying for their imaging services, and allows the patient to focus on what’s really important – their health.”
Ed Swager, CEO
Payment plans are worked out practically. We establish an amount to be paid at the time of service with the patient, and then set up payments that occur automatically over a three or four-month period after the service is provided. We can make these arrangements very quickly during the appointment process.
Because payment plans form a routine part of our service offerings, patients don’t feel that they are asking for some form of charity. Payment plans are a normal part of our service provision and we have the appropriate billing procedures and tools already in place. Patients should feel entirely at ease when discussing this option with staff from RAF or MIF.
Patients can begin the payment plan discussion when they call our scheduling number, (540) 741-XRAY (9729) [clickable] and then meet with one of our service coordinators to confirm the details.