Out-of-pocket costs rising for patients

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs rose about 12% in 2018, according to a new TransUnion Healthcare analysis. Costs increased for patients across all settings over care from 2017 to 2018, underscoring that Americans may be feeling the pinch.

During a healthcare visit, patients in 2018 had average out-of-pocket expenses between $501 and $1,000––a 39% jump from 2017 costs. Furthermore, those that had costs of $500 or less out of pocket declined from 49% of patients in 2017 to 36% in 2018. Fortunately, only 5% of patients had costs above $1,000, compared to 12% in 2017.

“For several years patients have faced a greater cost burden as healthcare expenses shifted from payers to patients,” Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare, said in a statement. “As a result, patients are now making decisions about where they receive care based on costs – not just the quality of care they may receive. This means price transparency is critical for healthcare providers who are not only competing for patients, but also want to secure timely payments from them.”

As healthcare costs rise across the industry, patients are being pushed into more outpatient settings, which are typically lower than inpatient settings.

“Patients are likely seeing more providers and payers recommending that they take advantage of cost-effective healthcare options, which brings down costs for all parties,” Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare, said in a statement. “This is especially important as costs continue to rise in all areas of healthcare, particularly in inpatient, outpatient and emergency department services.”

However, it’s still hard for patients to pay their bills, with about a third of patients having trouble paying their deductible before insurance will pay for care.