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Waystar survey finds patients more stressed about medicals bills than about care

With price transparency final rule approaching, data reveals patients seek greater clarity on their financial responsibility.

CHICAGONov. 19, 2020Waystar, a leading provider of healthcare payments software, today released a consumer survey based on the upcoming final rule on price transparency from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The rule, which will go into effect on January 1, 2021will require U.S. hospitals to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the items and services they provide so patients can compare provider estimates in advance.

Waystar’s study, entitled “Consumer Attitudes Toward Medical Bills and the Price Transparency Rule,” revealed that while patients are interested in better understanding the cost of care, the current medical billing process remains complex and stressful. The upcoming price transparency rule is a step in the right direction toward creating a truly consumer-centric healthcare experience, but 81% of patients said that knowing their actual out of pocket cost — rather than the standard price — would make them more likely to seek care. This underlines the need for providers to take further action to improve price transparency and help patients through the bill pay process.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Surprise medical bills are the tip of the iceberg: 56% of patients have received an unexpected medical bill, and only 43% of patients fully understood their most recent medical bill. This confusion has consequences: almost half of patients reported being late on a medical payment, stemming in large part to uncertainty over the bill and who owes what.
  • Medical bill stress overshadows concerns about care: Medical bills are a significant source of stress in consumers’ lives, especially for young people. A full 60% of Millennial and Gen Z respondents reported that they were more stressed out about the bill than about the quality of care they receive.
  • The upcoming price transparency rule will be helpful, but patients need more: 67% of patients ask about healthcare service pricing before visits, but only about half end up being correct. Patients agree the list of standard prices required by the upcoming rule will be at least somewhat helpful in understanding the cost of care. However, 81% said that the ability to know their actual out of pocket cost would make them more likely to proactively seek care—underlining an opportunity for providers to go the extra mile to improve the financial experience for their patients.

“Patients should have the information they need to make healthcare decisions in their best interest, and this data shows there’s a clear desire for upfront pricing,” said Waystar CEO Matthew Hawkins. “The CMS price transparency mandate is a step in the right direction, but this survey clearly shows that the ruling won’t be the silver bullet that suddenly fixes the confusing payments cycle. Taking extra steps—such as providing accurate up-front cost estimates and financial literacy resources—can significantly improve the financial experience for patients and providers alike.”

To download Waystar’s full data report please visit this link. For additional information on Waystar’s solutions, visit:

About Waystar:

Waystar provides next-generation, cloud-based technology that simplifies and unifies healthcare payments. The Waystar platform removes friction in payment processes, streamlines workflows and improves financials for providers in every care setting. Waystar products have won Best in KLAS® or Category Leader every year since 2010 and earned multiple #1 rankings from Black Book™ surveys since 2012. The Waystar platform supports more than 450,000 providers, 750 health systems and hospitals, and 5,000 payers and health plans. Waystar is backed by EQT, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Bain Capital. For more information, visit or follow @Waystar on Twitter.

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