Several media outlets have reported that UnitedHealthcare has just unveiled new capabilities on its MyUHC.com patient portal that allow patients to make credit card payments for their portion of their care (e.g., deductibles, co-insurance) and better understand how the sharing of financial responsibility works. UHC promises that the site will help make members more educated consumers about their healthcare — presumably encouraging them to be more judicious about spending by raising their awareness of the costs of care. The on-site demo shows that the site will offer at-a-glance summaries of all their accounts — out-of-pocket spending, progress against deductible, even utilization of FSA and HSA accounts.
The information side of this — implemented with help from InstaMed — looks like a huge leap forward. Will patients embrace the payment portion as well? It will also be interesting to see how the patient payment portion plays out for practice collections. For example, will practices be able to easily log in to confirm that a patient has made, say, a pre-payment needed before surgery? What reconciliation tools will be available? And will patients be more likely to request “bill me” because they’ll say they plan to pay at the portal? The portal also is expected to allow patients to “easily” dispute claims — what does this feature mean for practices?
Another open question: the demo states that the ability to make payments may not be available for all plans. Will this lead to more collection confusion for practices with UHC patients?
On the plus side, anything that clarifies the portion of the bill that is owed by patients — and places the responsibility for that breakdown on the health plan, not the practice — is bound to ease the burden practices face to explain large amounts owed to bewildered (and sometimes unhappy) patients. Practices might even encourage patients to look up and verify their amounts due while at their front desks.
Have any readers received communication from United about the new portal at their practice?
To read more or check out the demo:
UHC Adds Provider Payment Service to Member Portal [Health Data Management]