Physician Practice

More than half of patients attempt to negotiate medical bills

Physician Practice Insider, June 14, 2016

A majority of patients don’t understand the charges and information on their medical bills, according to the 2016 Copatient State of Medical Billing Confusion survey. The survey highlights patients’ frustrations with medical bills and the difficulties physician practices may face collecting payments and helping patients understand charges for services.

According to the survey, 72% of respondents received medical bills they didn’t understand and nearly all (94%) believed a bill they received was too expensive. This may be why a majority (53%) to attempt to negotiate a bill. However, only 38% reported their attempt to have a bill lowered was successful. Some respondents (36%) said they received a bill they weren’t able to pay but 41% of those respondents were able to use a payment plan to pay off their balance.

While rising costs of healthcare and an increase in high-deductible health plans may fuel patients’ concerns about out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, the complexity of information listed on medical bills and the volume of communications sent adds to patients’ confusion, according to HHS. Patients often don’t understand what portion of their bill was paid by their insurer and what they are expected to pay, according to a study conducted by HHS and design firm MadPow. The agency recently announced a medical bill redesign challenge to create a simpler, easier to read bill.

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