Updated March, 2015
Despite The Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate, a recent study shows nearly 1 in 4 people are still uninsured. These findings underscore a growing movement among patients who would rather pay for care only when they need it. What’s surprising is they’re having a hard time finding hospitals willing to work with.
Nine out of 10 consumers consider receiving upfront price estimates nearly as important as receiving an accurate medical diagnosis. Many would-be self-pay patients searching for this information are instead finding chargemaster data, which is inflated many times over to cushion the administrative burden of working with third-party payers.
While implementing a self-pay program isn’t easy, some early adopters are taking the plunge. For example, UCLA Health (a client of Aha Media’s) recently launched a cash pricing program. As one of the first academic medical centers in this arena, their program offers cash pricing for more than 50 procedures, with plans for soon adding more.
Accessible Price Information is Key to Engaging Self-Pay Patients
As more hospitals develop similar programs, competition will get stronger. Help your hospital stand out with these tips:
- Use consumer-friendly language. No one is going to spend a lot of money on something they don’t understand. Help self-pay patients feel confident about their purchase by using simple language to describe:
- The procedure they are paying for
- What services are included and excluded in the listed price
- Your billing processThis report from the American Hospital Association offers sample definitions and tips on communicating price transparency information to consumers.
- Seize your golden opportunity. Make price information available to patients at teachable moments, such as when they are considering an elective procedure. Make it easy to close the deal by linking to your price information on after visit summaries.
- Get them there in as few clicks as possible. Many patients, millennials in particular, want easy access to pricing information from their mobile device. Interactive features such as an easy to use interface of the human body, like UCLA uses, instead of a list can ensure a positive user experience. Want more mobile engagement strategies?
- Know your audience. It’s not enough to report prices for your most common procedures as most states already require this by law. Consider the specific health needs of your self-pay population, keeping in mind that most are likely under 65 years of age. Family planning and childbirth services are a great place to start.
- Don’t let them bounce. Use your pricing information page to draw potential patients deeper into your site and closer to conversion by strategically linking to relevant clinical program information and online appointment request forms.
- Give more information than they ask for. Chances are your self-pay patients want to know more ways to save. Add links to cost saving programs and services, such as reduced cost generic prescriptions, clinical trials for new treatments and free patient education programs, from your price information page.
How are you engaging self-pay patients? Tell us about your experiences in our Comments section.