CHICAGO, Oct. 9 An astounding 97 percent of hospitaladministrators from 22 hospitals in 15 states said they are seeing a rise inthe uninsured and underinsured populations, resulting in increased bad debtand the further straining of charity programs. The findings were gathered froma survey administered by TransUnion in conjunction with its Healthcare UsersGroup Conference. Nearly half of the survey respondents experienced a 6-10percent increase in the uninsured and underinsured population since thebeginning of 2007 with another 28 percent observing an 11-20 percent increase.
"The results of the TransUnion healthcare survey underscore the magnitudeof the uninsured and underinsured populations on the healthcare industry, andbased on discussions at our Healthcare Users Group Conference, it is apparentthat hospitals are working to ensure they can balance the fine line betweenproviding quality care while also being fiscally responsible," said RodBazzani, executive vice president of healthcare for TransUnion. "We arefinding that more and more hospitals are looking to healthcare revenue cycleworkflow and financial analytics products such as TransUnion's RevenueManager(SM) to both decrease bad debt and match more uninsured patients withfinancial assistance."
When ranking business issues in order of concern, treating and managingthe uninsured and underinsured, collection processes at both the front- andback-end of the revenue cycle and dealing with higher co-pays and deductibleswere the top three among hospitals surveyed, garnering 69 percent, 18 percentand 14 percent of responses, respectively.
These concerns dovetail with the survey findings where more than 40percent of respondents indicated they have bad debt percentages between 7 and10 percent.
"This was particularly unsettling to learn because national healthcareorganizations have generally operated with much lower bad debt numbers, butnow we see that a majority of hospitals are experiencing exceedingly high baddebt percentages," added Bazzani. "In fact, at a recent industry function, ahospital executive gave this sobering prognosis, 'No margin, no mission.'"
In terms of impact on their hospitals, approximately 83 percent of surveyrespondents said increasing bad debt had the largest bearing on theirhospitals because of the uninsured and underinsured patient population. Of therespondents, 62 percent said their charity program would be negativelyaffected by this increasing group.
Dan Angel, the director of patient financial services at Via ChristiRegional Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., attended the Healthcare Users GroupConference and concurred with the survey findings as they related to theuninsured population.
"Ten percent of our patient population is uninsured, which represents $12million per month in gross revenue," said Angel. "As one can imagine, this hashad a significant impact on the way our hospital operates, and solutions suchas TransUnion's Revenue Manager help us defray some of those costs andcontinue our mission by assisting our uninsured population in attainingbenefits."
TransUnion introduced the functionally enhanced Revenue Manager platformand healthcare analytic tools during the Healthcare Users Group Conference,which took place in September, 2008 at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans.Attendees from across the country exchanged fresh insights on increasingcollections, managing bad debt and improving operational efficiencies. Some ofthe key discussions included: segmentation analytics; upfront patient identityvalidation and time of service collections; work flow strategies andconsumer-directed health plans increasing patient responsibility and patientattitude shifts.
Other key survey findings include:
-- Nearly 68 percent of survey respondents are concerned with how theirstate or local political landscape is changing, particularly as it relates tocharity reporting or community benefit.
-- Approximately 9 percent of all patients from the hospitals surveyed areself-pay patients.
-- Nearly 79 percent of respondents said they are concerned that ConsumerDirected Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) will increase their bad debt within the nexttwo years.
-- When ranking business objectives in order of importance, 43 percent ofrespondents said increasing collections at the time of service and postdischarges were their No. 1 objective, followed by improving operationalefficiencies at 21 percent and decreasing bad debt at 18 percent.
"From a business perspective, this survey further validates TransUnion'sapproach in working with hospitals to deploy financial tools and software toautomate processes that five to 10 years ago were limited to adoption and usein financial-related industries," continued Bazzani.
As a global leader in credit and information management, TransUnioncreates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering,analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improveefficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by deliveringcomprehensive data and advanced analytics and decisioning. For consumers,TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage theircredit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and otherefforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Foundedin 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion employs more than 3,600employees in more than 25 countries on five continents.http://www.transunion.com/healthcare
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