This is an editorial post from Mitch Patridge, Chairman and CEO of CSI Financial Services

For American drivers, the recent spike in the price of crude oil has evoked painful memories of the summer of 2008, when the average price for regular gasoline reached an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon.

What does this have to do with healthcare? Well…everything. As instability continues in the Middle East and America’s fragile economy tries to right itself, consumers are having a difficult time budgeting the cost of daily necessities.

Now, add to this developing budget strain healthcare payments, which are oftentimes the result of an unexpected medical event and it’s easy to see how self-pay hospital bills can fall to the bottom of consumers’ “Bills to Pay” list.

Consider the following statistics:

• Approximately 50 percent of personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. (Source: Health Affairs)

• Based on a recent survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 41% of organizations said they were “likely” to pass on increased costs of health care coverage to their employees, whether directly or indirectly related to health reform, while 23% of organizations said they were “highly likely” to pass on these costs.

What is the solution? Avoid necessary treatment and run the risks associated with this decision? Hopefully this is not the case. As consumers take on the burden of higher self-pay balances and many healthcare providers struggle with having to write-off billions of dollars in bad debt, the list of viable solutions for both consumers and providers is limited.

However, dual solutions do exist. According to Ken Ursin, Corporate Director of Patient Financial Services for Adventist Health System, both groups have benefitted from the implementation of a healthcare bank loan program. “It has been a win for our financial counselors in that they have an excellent tool to resolve the patient’s balance,” Ursin said. “And, it’s a win for our patients because they have a program that is more suitable for their budget.”

Knowledge is power. So as prices for most consumer products and services continue to rise, it is important for consumers to understand that healthcare payments are on the rise as well. The worst decision an individual could make is to not seek treatment for a medical condition. If a patient is sick or injured and requires medical attention, they can go see a doctor. With the right loan system in place, both patients and providers can be at ease knowing that they can put the bills behind them.

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