As the cost of healthcare in the U.S. continues to rise, so do inequities in accessibility, disparities in health outcomes, and the severity of our country’s medical debt crisis. Hospital bills often force patients to make the difficult choice between treatment or financial hardship. Nonprofit hospitals—that genuinely care for the wellness of their community members—have been left in a tough position. How do they continue to provide equitable, affordable access to care and avoid operating in the red? Keep reading to learn the top 5 reasons why hospital costs have soared in the last five years and how a top-notch hospital financial assistance program (FAP) can help ease the increased financial pressure on lower-income patients.
1. Increased cost of medical technology
One of the major reasons for the increase in hospital bills is the cost of medical technology. Hospitals are investing in the latest medical equipment and technology to provide top-quality care, but the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading this equipment is significant.
2. Rising cost of pharmaceuticals
The cost of pharmaceuticals has been increasing steadily as well. Many medications used in hospitals are very expensive, and the cost often results in higher patient hospital bills.
3. Increased administrative costs
Hospitals have seen a significant increase in administrative costs in recent years, including expenses related to billing and collections, compliance with regulations, and managing electronic health records.
4. Shortage of healthcare professionals
When there is a shortage of healthcare workers, hospitals often need to leverage a staffing agency or pay their existing staff overtime to cover the gaps in staffing. This costs the hospital more money than standard operating protocols.
5. Health insurance costs
Health insurance costs have also been on the rise—especially with high deductible health plans and copayments, which means patients have taken on a larger portion of their medical bills.
What’s the solution?
It’s critical that nonprofit hospitals ensure that additional cost burdens above are not placed on the lower-income patients who already struggle to afford care. That’s where a patient-friendly and easy-to-implement hospital FAP is a viable solution to help lower hospital bills for eligible patients.
One of the biggest barriers to accessing financial assistance programs is the application process. Many patients find the application process confusing and time-consuming, which can deter them from applying. Make sure your application process is clear and straightforward. Include a digital application option, so it’s convenient. Provide user-friendly instructions and ensure that your staff is trained to assist when needed.
Promote your program. Financial assistance programs are only effective if patients know about them. Make sure to promote your program widely, both within your hospital and in the broader community. Use multiple channels, such as your hospital website, social media, and community events, to raise awareness.
Evaluate your program regularly. Once your financial assistance program is up and running, it’s important to evaluate its effectiveness regularly. This means tracking metrics such as the number of applications received, the percentage of applications approved, and patient satisfaction levels. Use this data to make improvements to your program over time and ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of your patient population.
The cost of healthcare in the U.S. is a complex issue, and hospitals are facing significant challenges to provide top-quality care while remaining financially viable. However, implementing a robust hospital financial assistance program can help to ensure affordable access to care and increase patient satisfaction while also streamlining the process for billing teams. By focusing on a patient-friendly and easy-to-implement FAP, hospitals can make a significant difference in the lives of their patients while remaining financially stable.