Healthcare Uncovered Episode 15: High Deductible Plans Are Bad News for Doctors

Dr. Eric Bricker
Dr. Eric Bricker
August 30, 2023

High deductible plans are increasingly common but if you are a doctor they are bad news.

Join me as I take a look at why doctors need to steer clear of these types of plans and share with you some tips about how best to do that.

Did you know that 29% of people who have commercial health insurance through their job are now on a high deductible health plan? That’s up from 19% just 10 years ago.

The average individual deductible for one of these insurance plans is about $2,500 per year and the average individual out-of-pocket maximum is about $5,300 per year. These plans have a lot of out-of-pocket costs for patients. As a result, doctors must expect their patients to pay at the time of service for office visits, tests and procedures.

According to the Medical Group Management Association—the trade association for physician practice managers—59% of doctor practices have seen an increase in patients with high deductible insurance plans.

The high out-of-pocket costs for high deductible insurance plans has meant a big disconnect between what patients expect to pay and the medical bills they actually receive. In fact, 50% of patients on a high-deductible health plan reported receiving 'surprise' medical bills. As a result, 34% of patients report being harassed by a bill collector and 44% report financial hardship from their medical bills.

High deductible plans have also been a challenge for physician practices.  

Almost one quarter of practices say that at least 10% of their patient accounts have bad debt associated with them and the majority have between 3 and 9%.

Here are some ways physician practices care for their patients, manage their patients’ expectations, and still get paid:  

  1. Give patients the ability to pay online.  Even in today’s world less than ½ of practices offer an online payment option for patients.
  2. Have a credit card on file for all your patients.  Practices that do so can lower their accounts receivable by 28%.  
  3. Offer payment plans over multiple months.  
  4. Improve your communication with your patients.  

While it may be unpleasant to talk about the cost of an office visit, test or procedure... it is super important to manage the expectations of your patients and be able to give them a good-faith estimate upfront.  

I recommend doctors look at networks that pay you in full, so you don’t have to deal with deductibles at all. One plan that I often recommend is the Nomi Health Open Network.

Healthcare shouldn’t be complicated. Check out Nomi Health’s Open Network of physicians to break through the red tape, collect the money you’ve earned, and get back to why you’re doing this in the first place.... helping patients.

Join the Nomi Open Network

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