The Health Services Authority (HSA) is seeking to recover its outstanding medical bills as part of the Government’s overall goal of preserving access to quality affordable healthcare.
“Recovery of the outstanding debt is a key strategy to achieve this goal as it will enable investment in expanded services and facilities to meet the needs of a growing population and the associated increased demand for services,” stated HSA Board Chairman Jonathan Tibbetts.
As at 30 June 2018, approximately $108 million was owed to the HSA. Of this amount, individuals classified as self-pay (cost of services not covered by a valid health plan) accounted for $59 million. This balance arose from some 290,000 medical encounters where goods and/or services were delivered but patients failed to pay.
More than 80% of the debts owed by individuals are for balances on invoices that are less than $500. This, therefore, suggest an unwillingness, instead of an inability to pay in many instances.
The HSA has over 30,000 medical encounters per month. That is an average of almost 1,000 encounters per day. The provision of care to meet this demand is delivered by over 850 doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and other public officers who work assiduously to ensure service availability at world-class standards.
Providing the resources to meet the medical needs of our patients carries an operating cost of approximately $8.5 million per month. When all our patients pay for their respective care, the cost to each is equitable; however, when only a few pays, the cost to others will naturally increase as the operating costs is then spread over a smaller number of individuals.
“We, therefore, feel it is our duty to the public to be fiscally prudent and pursue the recovery of amounts owed by individuals for the care they received. Recovery of the outstanding balances will go towards enhancing the HSA’s capabilities to provide greater efficiencies in critical areas such as pharmacy and diagnostic services. These efforts are part of a coordinated effort to ensure continued access to quality healthcare at an affordable cost,” noted HSA Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood.
The use of external resources to assist in debt recovery is based on careful analysis of the overall debt. The analysis identified self-pay balances as the area where additional resources were required to assist in recovering the thousands of accounts which make up the $59 million balance.
Debts owed by commercial insurers accounted for less than 7% of the overall portfolio as at 30 June 2018. The vast portion of that balance (more than 70%) is less than 12-months old. Internal efforts are presently underway to reduce the average balance owed by insurers and we are seeing good results from those efforts.
“Initiatives to recover debts from private individuals is therefore in addition to, and not instead of, recovering from insurance companies and other commercial parties,” explained Mr. Tibbetts.