January 26, 2016

HMG combats skyrocketing HDHPs with financial engagement

By laura aylward

HDHP-CarePaymentFor a window into what your organization can expect as high deductible health plans (HDHP) become the dominant form of medical insurance, look no further than Holston Medical Group.

In a span of 18 months, three of the five biggest employers in HMG’s region of eastern Tennessee and southern Virginia moved to HDHP-only insurance. After the largest employer’s new HDHP went into effect January 1, 2015, the multi-specialty practice saw front-office collections plummet 40%.

Before a financial crunch took hold, HMG took action. It started by analyzing its revenue cycle operations to identify all patient touch points and opportunities for financial engagement much earlier in the process, pre-service in particular.

The most substantial change was in notifying patients with HDHPs of their financial obligation and asking for full payment at time of service. The new policy was preceded by a blitz of patient education on health plan benefits and financial obligations, considerable staff training and re-tooling patient accounts and patient access procedures.

“Having financial discussions upfront was a major adjustment for our patients and for us,” says Randy Sharrow, who was chief financial officer for HMG. HMG removes financial barriers to care by accepting partial payment from patients who say they cannot pay in full at time of treatment and in offering the CarePayment financing option.

HMG restored patient collections to previous levels within two months. Group Practice Journal recently profiled HMG’s journey.

HDHPs are coming to an employer near you. Are you prepared for that new reality?