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ASCs must offer patients more financing options, BHG chief exec says

The ASC payment landscape is changing rapidly, with more ASCs adopting patient financing options and price transparency policies.Tyler Crawford, CEO of ASC and hospital patient financing partner BHG Patient Lending, shared his thoughts on the ASC payment landscape with Becker's ASC Review.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How have self-pay and patients with high-deductible health plans affected ASCs?

Tyler Crawford: With more employers moving toward high-deductible plans, fewer patients can afford out-of-pocket and unexpected costs. As a result, ASCs face procedure abandonment, resulting in lost revenue. With one in three patients having skipped a medical test, treatment, or follow-up appointment in the past year, it’s easy to calculate the potential loss.

Q: How can ASCs best cope with patients with these alternative payment options?

TC: Self-pay and high-deductible health plans are driving ASCs to offer patients an easy, affordable way to pay; this is a great way for ASCs to differentiate their facilities from others. Patients shouldn’t have to forego getting the treatment they need or go deeper into debt trying to pay for their medical procedure, and ASCs shouldn’t have to lose income. 

ASCs need to embrace payment as part of the overall patient experience. Medical bills can be both unexpected and stressful; offering a payment program reduces uncertainty and can enhance the patient experience.

Q: How do you expect the ASC payment landscape to change in the coming years?

TC: I expect we’re going to see healthcare transform to a monthly cost for consumers, similar to the way they already pay for retail subscriptions, car payments or utility bills. This will help consumers effectively manage out-of-pocket, noninsured costs, especially as patient cost responsibility continues to increase. As a result, more ASCs will offer payment options.

I expect these changes will also drive the need for transparency in billing. It’s important for ASCs communicate to patients so they understand costs and payment options. By being more transparent, ASCs have the opportunity to empower patients to make informed decisions about how to pay for procedures.

Lastly, I can see in-house collections continuing to take up valuable staff time, and ASCs will need to find a partner that can help provide support with both payments and collections.

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