Simplifying Patient Statements to Encourage Payment

Trends in Healthcare

For most people, statements for doctor’s visits and hospital stays are confusing. It seems that each organization has its own unique format for the bill, and the language to tell you what to pay isn’t always clear. Unfortunately, it is common for patient statements to create payment delays because the patient is confused about what and how to pay.

Longer payment timelines do nothing but hurt healthcare providers. It can cost up to four times more to pursue patient debt collections. The bottom line is that the longer a bill remains unpaid, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to collect.

What are some ways to encourage clarity in patient statements (and subsequent payment)? A contest called “A Bill You Can Understand” sponsored by the AARP on behalf of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found some answers:

Make payment options clear – Include instructions on how to pay. For example, don’t only post the address of the payment portal. Include information to make the process easier, such as, “Use the patient code listed on this bill to access your account.”

Use color to differentiate amounts owed – Use a color, such as red, to indicate past due amounts. If displaying charge line items, consider using a different color to highlight the amount the patient owes, so it stands out from the other elements such as fees and contractual adjustments on the line.

Personalize the statement – Take advantage of statement messaging to include useful information for patients such as, “Please refer to your insurance EOB for specific information about why your claim was denied,” or “Want a convenient way to pay at the office and online? Ask to keep a credit-card-on-file.”

If you would like to learn more about clarity in patient statements, visit the contest website at