U.S. hospitals are having much less trouble with collecting payments from uninsured patients, but a little more trouble than they did a year ago with collecting from insured patients.
Problems with collecting from the insured patients could sneak up on those hospitals, because many have poor systems for tracking patients with high-deductible health coverage.
Analysts at Crowe Horwath LLP, an accounting firm, present data supporting those conclusions in a report based on billing data from 444 hospitals located throughout the United States. The analysts looked at how the hospitals’ accounts receivable changed between June 2014, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) coverage expansion programs were starting to take full effect, and June 2015.
PPACA sharply reduced the uninsured population in many states by expanding access to Medicaid starting in January 2014 and helping some residents for private plans through the PPACA public exchange system. Some consumers had exchange coverage in place in January 2014. Others got coverage in place and working later in the year.
Thanks to coverage expansion programs, the share of hospital accounts receivable linked to uninsured patients fell 22 percent during the study period, the analysts say.
For uninsured patients, the share of accounts receivable that were 180 or more days late fell 11 percent.
The numbers went in the opposite direction for the insured patients.
The share of the hospitals’ accounts receivable billed directly to insured patients rose 13 percent.