As many consumers gravitate toward enrollment in high-deductible healthcare plans under Obamacare, hospitals are growing more and more apprehensive. When purchasing coverage through the new federal healthcare exchange, many patients could choose cheaper plans with high deductibles, resulting in costly medical bills for consumers.
The underlying issue concerning hospitals involves patients’ inability to pay off those bills. Ever since the economic downfall, hospitals have struggled even more with the collections process. According to Crain’s Cleveland Business, northeast Ohio hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, continue to battle with rising debt loads. With the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this situation could grow into an even bigger problem.
Since 2008, high-deductible health plans have become a popular choice among employers and individuals. As consumers continue to pursue more affordable coverage through the online marketplace, this new trend is projected to accelerate. Hospitals worry that employers, who once offered generous health benefits to their employees, will direct their workers to the online health exchanges. As a result, these individuals may select cheaper plans offering weaker coverage.
According to a report recently revealed by Moody’s Investors Service, hospitals must figure out how to compensate for $155 billion in federal reimbursement cuts that were agreed upon in order to help expand healthcare coverage under Obamacare. Based on the current design for plans available through the marketplace, patients electing high-deductible plans could be hit with bills ranging from $5,000 to $6,000 before insurance comes into play. If many of these patients are unable or refuse to pay these bills, hospitals could face staggering losses.
Aside from the lasting impact of costly bills, the haphazard launch of the federally-operated health insurance marketplace has only escalated the worries. Due to the ongoing glitches complicating the online enrollment process, hospitals are concerned that individuals who have lost coverage from their employers may not be able to enroll in health coverage before they need care. Since hospitals are unable to advise consumers in purchasing the right coverage plans, they can only wait and see how the situation plays out.