Healthcare costs continue to rise and consumers still have big problems understanding medical bills and their healthcare insurance benefits. Consumers also want more online tools to better understand and manage the process online.

Healthcare costs continue to rise and consumers still have big problems understanding medical bills and their healthcare insurance benefits.

They also want more online tools to better understand and manage the process online. In fact, 81% of consumers want healthcare providers to provide online estimating tools, according to a new study from medical payments services company InstaMed.

The report also finds that 71% of consumers want to receive electronic statements from hospitals, doctors and other providers, but thus far only 17% of patients receive their medical bills online. “Though we live in a digital age, much of healthcare’s communications to consumers are via paper,” the report says. “This disconnect is most prevalent in statements to consumers—an e-statement offers consumers the digital connection for healthcare payments that they want, while also making the entire process quicker and more convenient than mailed paper bills that consumers receive weeks or months after their date of service.”

As smartphones dominate the consumer experience, mobile must be considered for healthcare as well.

More consumers, it seems, also want to pay their medical bills using their smartphone or tablet. Mobile payments made by consumers on mobile devices accounted for 29% of all online payments processed through InstaMed’s payments processing network in 2018, up from 18% in 2015. InstaMed did not break out specific metrics on mobile transactions, but said its processing network had volume of more than $396 billion.

“As smartphones dominate the consumer experience, mobile must be considered for healthcare as well—this includes mobile access to web browsers to make a payment, which consumers are increasingly leveraging,” the report says. “With the advent of mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, consumers will look to healthcare for similar mobile offerings.”

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Other findings include:

  • Payments to providers through a health plan’s website increased 88% last year and payments from an online patient portal increased 121%. InstaMed did not break out specific metrics.
  • 86% of consumers want to make all of their healthcare payments in one place.
  • 90% of providers leverage paper and manual processes for collections.
  • 69% of providers saw an increase in patient responsibility in 2018 compared to 2017.
  • 77% of providers say that it takes more than a month to collect any payment.
  • 71% of consumers are confused by explanation of benefits (EOBs).
  • 72% of consumers want e-statements for health plan premium bills, yet 42% of consumers cannot receive e-statements from their health plan.
  • 91% of providers still receive paper checks from one or more payers, yet 82% of providers prefer electronic funds transfers (EFTs) from payers.

“It is clear that increased consumer responsibility is one of the most significant trends shaping the future of healthcare payments for consumers, providers and payers,” says InstaMed chief technology officer Chris Seib.

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