TransUnion Healthcare: 2021 Sees 55% Rise in Financial Assistance Transactions
35% of Consumers Report Deferring Care Due to Existing Medical Bills in 2021
The number of financial assistance transactions processed by TransUnion Healthcare increased 55% between September 2020 and September 2021. A new analysis from TransUnion Healthcare (NYSE: TRU) released at the HFMA Annual Conference indicates hospitals are more proactively working with patients to understand their financial needs and provide them appropriate options.
“By communicating with patients early on, helping them understand their cost of care and their payment options—including financial assistance—healthcare systems can improve outcomes for patients as well as the hospital’s bottom line.”
The data reflect millions of financial assistance transactions, from more than 1,000 hospitals and physician practices, conducted through TransUnion Healthcare in order to validate identity, determine charity options and assess a patients’ ability and propensity to pay. TransUnion Healthcare began collecting this data in September 2018 and has tracked an upward year-over-year trend, amounting to a 270% increase since that time.
Financial Assistance Transactions Continue to Increase*
*Data is a combination of increased overall transaction volume and an increase in the number of organizations using these transactions
“This data reflect the increased financial pressure on healthcare systems as well as patients who are struggling with the burden of high healthcare costs,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare. “We are recommending that hospitals engage patients confidently and increase transparency and communication in regard to billing, beginning with providing patients a clear understanding of the cost of care at intake, and then streamlining financial clearance and charity screening throughout the revenue cycle.”
While the increased number of financial assistance transactions was likely exacerbated by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, Wiik said other factors, like hospital billing practices also played a role.
Prior research by TransUnion found 70% of patients said knowing costs before a procedure helps them anticipate charges and budget for payments, and 65% said they would make at least a partial payment if an advance estimate were provided.
Patient safety the primary concern
Along with its most recent data analysis, TransUnion Healthcare also conducted a consumer survey of patients’ healthcare billing experiences. The survey found 35% of those with outstanding medical bills said those bills deterred them from seeking healthcare in the past 12 months.
“It’s scary and sad to know people are forgoing their physical and mental health for fear that they’ll ruin their financial health with medical treatment,” said Wiik. “By communicating with patients early on, helping them understand their cost of care and their payment options—including financial assistance—healthcare systems can improve outcomes for patients as well as the hospital’s bottom line.”
Jonathan Wiik will present on this topic in depth at the HFMA Annual Conference, Tuesday, November 9, 1:30 p.m., CT, during his session, Socioeconomic Roulette: Driving Clinical and Financial Results for Vulnerable Populations.
Wiik will also be signing copies of his latest book, Healthcare Evolution: Helping Providers Get Paid in an Era of Uncertainty at the TransUnion Healthcare conference booth (#1017), Tuesday, November 9, 5:30-6:30 p.m., CT.
About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing an actionable picture of each person so they can be reliably represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.®
TransUnion Healthcare, a wholly owned subsidiary of TransUnion, makes mutual trust possible between patients, providers, and payers by helping them navigate payment complexities. Our solutions leverage comprehensive data, accurate insights and industry expertise to engage patients and health plan members early, ensure earned revenue gets paid, and optimize payment strategies. TransUnion Healthcare helps over 1,850 hospitals and 650,000 physicians collectively recover more than $1.2 billion annually in revenue.
A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.