How Much Consumers Can Afford to Pay, in an Emergency

About half of the population is concerned about being able to pay for an unexpected medical expense of less than $1,000, and 37% of individuals are very or somewhat concerned that they will be unable to pay for medical care next year, according to the results of a survey released earlier this month by AccessOne.

The financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted individuals’ abilities to stay on top of their medical debts, either because their deductibles are too high or because they lost their health insurance altogether. Forty percent of consumers who participated in the survey have experienced a financial loss because of the pandemic, which has led to a large percentage of individuals delaying medical care and even more who are shopping around for the best price before making an appointment.

“Given the level of economic uncertainty and increased health risks presented by the pandemic, 2020 has been a challenging year for patients and providers alike,” said Mark Spinner, CEO for AccessOne, in a statement. “Patients are continuing to delay medical care not just to limit their exposure to the virus, but also for financial reasons. Many consumers don’t fully understand their health insurance benefits, and healthcare leaders are focusing on ways to close that transparency gap to both promote trust and enable access and affordability.”

The report makes four recommendations to help providers strengthen the patient financial experience. Those recommendations are:

  • Keep working toward transparency
  • Find simplified ways to speak with patients about what their insurance will and won’t cover
  • Discuss payment options with patients before care is delivered
  • Strengthen patient loyalty by offering flexible payment plans

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