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Survey: True Cost of Healthcare Leaves Most Consumers in the Dark

Patients endure poor price transparency and surprise medical bills as out-of-pocket obligations continue to rise

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — September 10, 2019— As out-of-pocket healthcare costs continue to rise, a majority of healthcare consumers lack a clear understanding into what they owe or how to pay for it, according to a recent survey from VisiQuate.

According to the survey, 75% percent of consumers weren’t made aware of their financial obligations until after a procedure or service was completed. A majority of respondents (73%) also claimed to have received a surprise or unexpected bill for a medical procedure within the last year.

Survey Analysis
The conversation of healthcare consumerism continues to buzz around the rise of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), which are defined as health plans with an annual deductible of at least $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage, according to the National Center for Healthcare Statistics (NCHS). In 2011, 28.5 percent of consumers had HDHPs, but by 2016, the number had risen to 40.6 percent.

Absent greater clarity into the cost of care, focused patient engagement initiatives and tools to sustainably manage medical bills, patient satisfaction will continue to fall as bad debt continues to rise.
Beyond the financial ramifications, poor insight into how patients receive and manage their financial obligations impacts clinical care. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, 23% of Americans have delayed care because of cost concerns—and 63% of that group says they are dealing with serious conditions.

Providers are also feeling the sting. According to the American Hospital Association, health systems  carry more than $38 billion in bad debt on their books ($620 billion since 2000). Additionally, cost-driven treatment decisions can also have a financial impact, representing lost or decreased revenue and threatening profitability, growth or even viability. Patients who do move forward with care may still struggle with costs, so health providers may wait longer and work harder to collect payment. In fact, a 2017 study found that 73% of providers say it takes a month or more to collect balances due.

“Patients want increased transparency into the billing process, along with easier ways to pay their bills,” said Brian Robertson, CEO of VisiQuate. “Today’s healthcare revenue cycle continues to grow in complexity, requiring an advanced and strategic offering that incorporates intelligent automation and analytics. The process begins well before the consumer walks through the provider’s door and continues after treatment. At each step of the way, there are processes that can be improved. And that’s where VisiQuate can help.”

How VisiQuate Helps
To address patients’ shouldering an ever-increasing financial burden and health systems’ margins continuing to tighten as bad debt piles up, VisiQuate has developed advanced machine learning and micro-segmentation capabilities to drill down into each patient’s ability to manage and pay their bills. With these insights captured, Ana – VisiQuate’s virtual Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer and 24/7 data analyst - recommends the most productive engagement actions for each individual. To create an even more personalized patient experience, Ana’s document management and guidance features promote closer collaboration among revenue cycle professionals, call center representatives, and provider marketing teams. Her robotic process automation and machine learning capabilities ensure an improved experience with each interaction—taking self-pay engagement far beyond mere task automation. The results of the VisiQuate survey are in line with data from industry experts. For example, according to a Connance, a Waystar Company, Consumer Survey, 74 percent of patients satisfied with their billing options paid in full, compared with 33 percent who were dissatisfied. According to an AITE Group survey, nearly 60 percent of Americans pay their bills online. Conventional wisdom says that the key is making payment easy for patients by setting up point-of-service (POS) systems that enable them to use credit cards, debit cards, electronic wallets, and other consumer-oriented payment methods, however consumers are hungry for innovation and change that mirror how they manage payment in other areas of their lives. For example, VisiQuate’s survey uncovered that over half of respondents (53%) would be more willing to pay their hospital bill if it were as simple as paying their cell phone bill. 

Survey Details
Respondents to the random, online survey of 200 U.S. consumers were 40 percent male and 60 percent female. The bulk of respondents were 25 to 34 years old (35%), 35-44 (24%), followed by 18-24 (19%), 45-54 (12%), and >54 (11%) illustrating that the desire for more sophisticated payment options appears to cross generational boundaries.

About VisiQuate
VisiQuate is an expert managed analytics service that helps clients achieve peak business health. Its business analytics integrate and simplify complex big data from multiple sources and deliver meaningful insights, prediction pathways, and actionable workflows. VisiQuate’s virtual Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer and 24/7 data analyst, Ana, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help clients discover hidden root causes, trends, and opportunities. This creates a cycle of continuous improvement that leads directly to real-world results. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, VisiQuate serves clients in leading healthcare enterprises across the country. For more information, visit or contact

Media Contact
Jenn Cohen 
Amendola Communications for VisiQuate

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