According to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report, in 2018 Americans' medical expenses totaled $3.6 trillion. And that was without a pandemic that has been difficult to tame, if not wipe out completely.
Between February and May of 2020, 20 million Americans lost their jobs due to Covid-related shut-downs, leaving about 5.4 million Americans uninsured, according to a report by Families USA.
What this means is: a lot of medical counts entering the collections cycle.
HFMA and ACA have jointly published a 28-page report, updating and extending guidance to agencies on how best to treat medical debt accounts in this truly extraordinary time.
The report covers a framework for best practices, including:
- The Patient Friendly Billing Element
- The Communications Element
- The Price Transparency Element
- Attitude and Culture
- Education Tools
- Supportive Policies
Collections isn't necessarily the easiest relationship to have with a consumer; human nature makes us guilty for not being able to fulfill a promise -- fiduciary or otherwise. But we are now in absolutely uncharted territory, where more people than ever are finding themselves un- or under-employed, with no insurance, and no income to cover all the expenses they are now covering. (With many working from home, utility bills are higher, food budgets are different, and sometimes there's still no toilet paper.)
Any effort that empowers consumers without alienating them is good work; and this HFMA/ACA report goes a long way to provide guidance on how to ensure dignity while working through this unfortunate and challenging time.