In the news, we continue to hear about the rising cost of healthcare. Providers are becoming more reliant on consumer payments and payers are dealing directly with consumers. There has been a significant enrollment increase of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) over the last decade. However, there is another increase that goes hand in hand with enrollment.
The average deductible for single coverage workers is now $1,478, a far cry from the 2010 average of $735. Consumers want to know what they owe up front. Unfortunately, healthcare costs are often confusing, and the terms ill defined. More importantly, payment processing for healthcare is often slow and outdated.
I personally do many of my general transactions through my phone or a website portal. Yet when it comes to healthcare billing, I receive my deductible on paper directly from the provider.
More than once I have been given the three standard options for payment—Cash, check, or credit. These payments have been completely separate from my own health plan as a deductible, and I have few options for how to pay. The current system is inconvenient and is inefficient. I want a safe, secure payment method that is not time consuming and allows me to see the immediate balance reflected on my account.
I hope that the healthcare marketplace can learn from trends in the consumer retail market. Over the last decade, consumer retail has been refocusing its efforts around an online presence and Internet retailers such as Amazon have come to dominate the market. These companies offer numerous forms of payment, varying from standard credit card transactions, to PayPal and other third party payment processors. Instead of consistently re-entering my payment information and worrying about its security, I can rest easier knowing that my data is being handled on an efficient server that minimizes unnecessary touch points or outside contact.
Companies such as Amazon have set a precedent for ease of pay, and consumers are expecting more of their transactions to be online. According to a poll released by InstaMed, 81% of consumers indicate that they pay their household bills online. Consumers expect healthcare payments to be processed much the same. Without innovation, payment methods in healthcare will continue to remain stagnate while other industries capitalize on the influx of new technologies that increase efficiency and allow ease of use.