Healthcare Payment Tips for Reaching Generation X

By April Wilson, VP, Marketing & Analytics for Healthcare, RevSpring
Twitter: @RevSpringInc

Generation X makes up about 15 to 20 percent of the American population today and has some interesting views and habits about healthcare and finances. Between the dotcom bubble burst of 2000–2001 and the Great Recession of 2007–2008, Gen Xers has seen their earnings power and savings compromised, which is reflected in their financial beliefs and habits. However, the expected transfer of wealth — to the tune of around $30 trillion — from baby boomers to their Gen X children over the next 30 years will have a significant impact on Gen Xers’ finances.

Knowing how to communicate with patients who fall into the Gen X age group (around 40-54 years old) requires an understanding of their generational preferences and views on technology. Gen Xers are generally tech savvy and seek the help of technology to manage and monitor their finances. Consider these Nielsen statistics on Generation X as it relates to their technology and payment habits:

  • Only 42 percent pay their credit card balance on time—compared to 54 percent of millennials, and 53 percent of baby boomers
  • Nearly 60 percent say they are in debt
  • 34 percent have high-deductible health plans
  • Nearly 50 percent use mobile payment options

By following a few best practices, organizations can properly communicate and offer Gen Xers the tools they need for efficient payment.

Open the lines of communication
Gen Xers need open, consistent, and convenient payment communication from their healthcare providers. In general, they have a distrust for authority, which extends to insurance companies, pharma companies, and even hospitals and health systems. As naturally skeptical healthcare consumers, they need transparency— and they aren’t afraid to switch providers if their experience doesn’t match their needs.

Despite their skepticism, Gen Xers are more brand loyal than any other generation. That gives healthcare providers who take the time to understand and connect with this group a unique opportunity to offer an exceptional patient experience and earn patient retention. Integrated payment communication tools can tailor the payment conversation to influence behavior and inspire action.

Help them prepare for expenses
Complex medical bills can confuse patients but providing detailed information upfront can help patients anticipate future bills. Too many times, patients are unsure about their out-of-pocket expenses and are surprised by their payment responsibilities. Payment communications should clearly outline financial responsibilities, including accurate pre-service cost estimation that distinguishes between insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses. When patients’ financial obligations are clear during the healthcare journey, they can better prepare to make timely payments.

Offer a variety of payment options
Generation X patients expect the ability to pay at their convenience using their preferred payment methods, such as phone, mail, desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Patients expect an Amazon-like payment experience that allows them to click and instantly pay, especially on mobile devices. Giving patients as many options as possible increases the likelihood that such bills will get paid.

Encourage low-cost payment plans when needed
While credit card use is widespread among Generation X with 79 percent owning at least one credit card, this cohort is the worst when it comes to paying off monthly balances. Twelve percent pay only the minimum balance each month, revolving the rest, more than any other generation.

Based on these insights, Generation X may not be likely to pay balances in full upfront. However, they are an excellent audience for setting up payment installment plans. Use this generalization as part of a larger business intelligence effort to tailor payment options and patient communications based on individual propensity-to-pay scores.

Recognizing generational and technology adoption differences among patients is imperative for offering them the most relevant and beneficial payment plans. Providing customized payment options and opening the lines of communication based on specific patient needs will lead to more streamlined operations and quicker payments.