Home › How to Prepare for 2024 Deductible Resets November 10, 2023 By Millennia Let’s be honest — health care payment complexities often leave patients frustrated and health care providers perplexed. The concept of deductible resets is anything but straightforward, and many patients find themselves in the dark about their health care plan’s policies. However, it’s time to change that. As we usher in the new year, both health care patients and providers are confronted with a common challenge, which is the resetting of insurance deductibles. This annual ritual requires many patients to once again dip into their pockets for medical services that insurance comprehensively covered just a few weeks ago, sometimes resulting in canceled or rescheduled appointments. The Deductible Dilemma A 2021 survey unveiled that deductibles have surged from $826 in 2009 to $1,655 in 2019. The landscape of health care coverage has transformed significantly over the past decade, with only a handful of plans featuring deductibles in the $250 to $500 range. Additionally, the percentage of individuals with employer-sponsored insurance carrying deductibles has climbed from 63% to 82% in the last decade. The truth is that insurance companies and managed care organizations have redefined the rules of the game, transferring administrative responsibilities and costs onto physicians and patients. High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are designed to prompt the proper use of health care services by patients. Unfortunately, for many Americans, this strategy has led to postponed or neglected essential and preventive care, often to their detriment. One study reported that 24% of surveyed adults skipped necessary medical care due to affordability concerns. The surge in deductibles in recent years is primarily attributable to the proliferation of high-deductible health plan (HDHP) options. Patients opt for these plans with lower monthly premiums, while employers turn to HDHPs to mitigate expenses associated with lower-deductible alternatives. Now, let’s explore how your team can proactively gear up for the deductible reset at the year’s outset by talking to patients about money. Send Patient Estimates A great tip on how to prepare patients for billing is to send them estimates. When patients know the financial implications of their health care services in advance, they can prepare and feel a sense of financial readiness. They won’t be caught off guard by unexpected bills and will be more likely to make payments on time. Providing patients with this level of support and financial transparency will also make them more inclined to return to your practice. Enforce Upfront Collections Enforcing upfront collections is the first step to minimize appointment cancellations or rescheduling later in the year. Initiating that conversation with patients can be a challenge, depending on their situation. One approach is to have a policy asking patients to keep their payment info safely stored with your health care practice. Millennia’s integrated patient portal includes a Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard-compliant processing feature so that patients can keep their payment information securely on file. This idea has a twofold advantage: It makes it easy to collect payments, and it sets the expectation that patients will be responsible for their part of the health care expenses. Once you have their payment method securely on file, you can chat with the patients about automatic payments. The thought of charging their card, especially for a hefty bill, can be a bit intimidating, so tell the patient they can set a limit on how much you’ll charge the card. This way, they will always know the maximum amount that can be charged. Engage With Patients Based on Their Preferences Communicating with patients can be challenging and can take a lot of administrative time. Millennia Complete’s Engagement Intelligence can help. As a core component of the Millennia Complete solution, Engagement Intelligence uses real-time analytics to optimize patient engagement and help you communicate with patients in the way they prefer. For example, the platform suggests the best time of day to reach the patient and their preferred medium of communication. Collect Patient Payments Using Digital Payment Technology When it comes time to collect patient payments, rely on Millennia Complete’s digital payment technology. The online payment portal is easy to navigate from mobile devices of any size and offers convenience, speed, security and availability for patients. Patients can choose the payment method that works best for them, including: MobilePay: Our portal supports a single-click approval for payment collection that’s easy to navigate from hand-held devices of any size. Photo-capture bill payment: Our platform enables patients to pay their bills with just a photo, streamlining the patient experience. QR-coded statements: With QR codes on printed or e-statements, patients can quickly scan and pay outstanding balances. Text-to-pay: Patients can elect to receive a link via SMS that transfers them directly to the portal to make fast payments. Chat pay: Patients can submit payment through chat with our concierge team when inquiring about a bill. For you, multiple payment options ensure that payments are collected efficiently, immediately and safely. Offer Payment Plans Payment plans, often known as patient financing or installment payment alternatives, are a strategic solution for handling patient balances and increasing revenue recovery efforts. Here’s what they offer: Enhanced financial accessibility: Offering payment plans makes health care services more accessible to a broader range of patients. Patients who might not be able to pay a single lump sum can instead pay in manageable amounts. Improved cash flow: Instead of waiting for patients to make lump-sum payments, establish a more steady income stream that can cover operational costs and investments promptly. Reduced billing hassles: When patients pay in installments, it eases the billing process for your practice. You can look at reduced administrative overhead and allow your staff to focus on patient care. Enhanced patient satisfaction: Patients appreciate the flexibility offered by payment plans, which can lead to improved patient satisfaction and retention. Millennia manages any new or existing payment plans to help balance your revenue with your patient’s financial needs. Ask Patients if They Have an HSA It’s no secret that the world of health care can be intricate and multifaceted. One way to simplify the financial aspect of health care is by asking patients a simple question: Do you have a Health Savings Account (HSA)? HSAs allow people to save money specifically for qualified medical expenses. Here are some key points about HSAs: Tax advantages: Contributions made to an HSA are typically tax-deductible, which means your patient can reduce their taxable income. Additionally, any interest or investment earnings on the HSA funds grow tax-free. When they withdraw the money to pay for qualified medical expenses, those withdrawals are also tax-free. High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) requirement: A patient must be covered by a high-deductible health insurance plan to be eligible. The programs usually have higher deductibles and the advantage of lower premiums than traditional health insurance plans. Contributions: The amount you can contribute to an HSA is subject to annual limits set by the IRS. These limits can vary depending on whether the patients have self-only or family coverage. For those aged 55 or older, there is usually a “catch-up” provision that allows for additional contributions. Use for qualified medical expenses: An HSA can be used to pay for various qualified medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, prescription medications and more. Portability: HSAs are portable, meaning that the individual, not the employer, owns the account. Patients can keep their HSA if they change jobs or health insurance plans. The funds in the account can also roll over from year to year with no “use it or lose it” rule. Understanding whether a patient has an HSA can significantly impact how health care expenses are managed. If a patient does have an HSA, it’s an opportunity to provide guidance and support regarding how they can use these funds for their health care needs. On the other hand, if a patient doesn’t have an HSA, this question can serve as an educational moment. Health care providers can explain the advantages of having an HSA and provide information on how to set one up. Preparing for 2024? Reach Out to Millennia Millennia Complete is a unified software solution meticulously designed to enhance the patient’s journey and bolster revenue recovery. From the moment a patient walks through your doors to the final payment, we can streamline processes, eliminate confusion and minimize the frustration often associated with nonclinical aspects of care. As you gear up for the new year, reach out to us for a free consultation. Discover how our software can transform your practice, like our services did for OrthoNY, streamlining revenue management and the patient experience. It’s time to embrace the future of health care management with Millennia Complete.