Fewer individuals had a medical debt go into collections in 2020 compared with a year ago, according to the results of a survey that were released this week, which also showed a spike in the usage of billing-related text messages and emails as providers and collectors embrace digital collection strategies.
The survey was conducted by Cedar, a healthcare financial engagement platform.
Fifty-four percent of the survey’s respondents had a debt go into collection this year, down from 59% a year ago. The most common reasons cited for why a bill goes into collections were an inability to pay, incorrect billing amount, confusion about the billing amount, and outdated billing and notification processes.
But while the number of individuals who had a medical debt placed with a collections agency is on the decline, the number of individuals who are worried about paying their healthcare bills next year remains very high — 84%.
Billing-related text message usage increased by 200% during 2020, according to the survey, while email usage was up 84% from 2019. Patient portal usage was 34% higher in 2020 than a year earlier.
Individuals used to the simplicity and smoothness of services like Amazon and Netflix want the same experience with their healthcare providers. Almost half of the survey’s respondents said they wished their digital experience with their healthcare provider was more intuitive.
Ease of use was also a desire for patients when it comes to paying their bills. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they wished it was easier to pay medical bills online, as it is with other bills, and 60% would prefer to pay through a portal rather than having to make a payment using other means.