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Patients May be the New Payers, But Two in Three Do Not Pay Their Hospital Bills in Full

New TransUnion Healthcare analysis emphasizes need for hospitals to engage patients early

Chicago, June 26, 2017 – A new TransUnion Healthcare (NYSE:TRU) analysis revealed a significant rise in the percentage of patients that didn’t pay their hospital bills in full. Approximately 68% of patients with bills of $500 or less did not pay off the full balance during 2016 – up from 53% in 2015 and 49% in 2014.

The analysis was released today at the 2017 Healthcare Financial Management Association's (HFMA) Annual National Institute in Orlando in conjunction with a book signing by TransUnion Healthcare’s Jonathan Wiik. Wiik’s new book, titled “Healthcare Revolution: The Patient is the New Payer,” explores how the financing and delivery of healthcare has changed significantly due to major shifts in coverage, payments and legislation.

“There are many reasons why more patients are struggling to make their healthcare payments in full, the most prominent of which are higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility from 10% to 30% over the last few years,” said Wiik, author of the book and also principal for healthcare revenue cycle management at TransUnion. “This shift in healthcare payments has been taking place for well over a decade, but we are seeing more pronounced changes in how hospital bills are paid during just the last few years.”

Wiik will be signing advanced copies of his new book at ANI on Monday, June 26 at 11 a.m. ET at Booth #701 in the Exhibit Hall. The book will be available for purchase on Amazon in August.

The trend of not paying off balances in full may only just be commencing. TransUnion Healthcare’s analysis projects that by the year 2020, the percentage of patients not paying their bills in full will rise to 95%. The study also revealed that the percentage of patients that have made partial payments toward their hospital bills has gone down dramatically from 89-90% in 2015-2016 to 77% in 2016.

“Higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility are causing a decrease in patient payments to providers for patient care services rendered. While uncompensated care has declined, it appears to be primarily due to the increased number of individuals with Medicaid and commercial insurance coverage,” said John Yount, vice president for healthcare products at TransUnion.

Despite the decline in uncompensated care, in 2015 hospitals wrote off approximately $35.7 billion as bad debt or charity care.

“With millions of dollars in unpaid medical debt, hospitals have begun implementing new processes to prevent revenue leakage while also providing a better patient experience. It is one of the reasons TransUnion Healthcare is enhancing its Healthcare Revenue Protection Solutions,” added Yount.

Transunion Healthcare works with hospitals to stratify their bad debt portfolio through its Patient Financial Clearance suite of solutions. The solutions leverage both credit and non-credit data sources to determine patient ability and willingness to pay, and presumptive charity care. The suite of solutions also provide an objective, standardized interview and program enrollment tool that helps financial counselors match uninsured and underinsured patients to the appropriate financial assistance programs.

Additional TransUnion Healthcare findings for payment patterns between 2014 and 2016 include:

-63% of hospital bills were $500 or less; of those hospital bills, 68% were not paid in full in 2016.

-14% of hospital bills were $3,000 or more; of those hospital bills, 99% were not paid in full in 2016.

-10% of hospital bills were $500 to $1,000; of those bills 85% were not paid in full in 2016.

For additional information about TransUnion Healthcare research, please click here.

About TransUnion Healthcare

TransUnion Healthcare, a wholly owned subsidiary of credit and information management company TransUnion, is a trusted provider of revenue cycle management solutions for maximizing reimbursement, improving patient engagement, and ultimately increasing the effectiveness of the healthcare system. We deliver this by leveraging our data assets, market-leading revenue cycle management technologies, and deep insights into consumer financial behavior, to help providers reduce uncompensated care and improve cash flow with one of the most patient-centric revenue cycle management systems on the market today.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)

Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

We call this Information for GoodSM