When Methodist Calls: Answering Questions about Cost
The financial aspect of health care
Going through a surgical procedure can be a worrisome process for any patient. There’s concern about pain, going under anesthesia and the road to recovery. For many, there is also anxiety about the costs associated with their care.
While the goal of a call from pre-surgery nurses is to ease the fears surrounding the procedure itself, the goal of another phone call is to educate and guide patients through the financial aspect of their health care.
“We want to take the fear of the unknown out of the equation,” said Cindy Haas, manager of patient accounts at Methodist Health System. “People may worry about the decisions they have to make in health care. We don't want them to have to be burdened with concern about whether they can afford it.”
Pre-surgery cost estimates
Before a planned procedure, patients may receive a phone call from a financial counselor in patient accounts. During the call, they receive an estimate of the costs associated with their hospital stay and are offered options on how to meet that financial obligation. It begins the discussion between the patient and the providers about the bill – and what is and is not covered by insurance.
“Health care benefits have changed so much and so rapidly over the last few years, it can be difficult for patients to understand their own plans,” said Cynde McCall, director of access and health information at Methodist Health System. “Our vision is to try to provide as much transparency and assistance to the patients as possible. It’s how we deliver The Meaning of Care.”
The process begins when a surgery is booked. The scheduler will ask to verify your insurance information – and that can be the most important piece of the puzzle.
“Patients need to make sure their health care provider has their current insurance information, including their plan group number,” said McCall. “Starting with the correct information can help speed up the process and ensure that we get the patients accurate estimates up front.”
Those estimates are provided by insurance providers to the health system. The insurers let Methodist know what amount of the procedure is covered by insurance. Every plan is different, and the coverage you carry can impact the amount you will pay out of pocket. A financial counselor then gives you a call to let you know about payment options, which may include paying part of the bill before you even go in the hospital.
“If we see a patient has a high deductible or will pay a large amount out of pocket for any other reason, such as being out-of-network or paying privately, we ask if they would like a referral to other resources for assistance. We provide this service to our patients because it's a really important piece."
Manager of Patient Accounts at Methodist Health System
Health care can be so complex and many people are concerned about the cost. There are many different financial options available, and many patients appreciate knowing that up front. We see it as an opportunity for patients to make the decisions that are best for them when it comes to their care.”
Payment options are available over the phone or online through online bill pay. But any questions you may have can be made to the Methodist business office at any time. There, you can speak to financial counselors who are as committed to The Meaning of Care as the health care providers at your bedside.
“We are providing The Meaning of Care by taking care of the patient's financial care,” said Haas, “and that is very important to us.”
You can reach the Methodist Health System billing office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling 402-354-4230 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more from our 3-part series, “When Methodist Calls”: