More on Billing and Collections

North Kansas City Hospital adds CarePayment services to aid in collections

CarePayment’s program allows patients to make monthly payments to pay down medical bills with zero interest.

The 450-bed North Kansas City Hospital said it has partnered with CarePayment to offer patients financing options to deal with ballooning out-of-pocket costs.

Services like CarePayment that take on the collection of medical bills, as well as in-house payment programs, have become much more popular in healthcare as more medical costs shift to patients.

CarePayment's program allows patients to make monthly payments to pay down medical bills with zero interest.

[Also: CarePayment scores $100 million in funding from Wells Fargo]

"We've seen a sharp increase in higher deductibles and co-pays in the past few years, and these larger medical bills are a financial hardship for many patients," Kelli Schroeder, manager of Patient Accounts for NKCH, said in a statement.

According to the Association for Health Insurance Plans, 46 percent of Americans said they faced hardship in 2014 from medical bills, up from 36 percent a year earlier.

In a March interview with Healthcare Finance, Baptist Health Care in Florida said it recently began offering the CarePayment option to patients to help rein in overdue accounts.

Options like CarePayment also help hospitals avoid running into problems with their collections practices.

[Also: Emory Healthcare adds CarePayment option for flexible payments]

CarePayment's programs also follow new Internal Revenue Service regulations regarding extraordinary collection actions, Schroeder said.

The Department of the Treasury in January issued final regulations to consumer financial protections at nonprofit hospitals that could result in a nonprofit's tax-exempt status being revoked if they abuse the rules.

The rules include requiring nonprofits to limit charges for financial assistance-eligible patients and the uninsured to general rates for private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Hospitals must have very transparent financial assistance programs and steer clear of hostile collections methods.

Twitter: @HenryPowderly

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