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A big chunk of patient payments goes uncollected because many U.S. health care providers lack the information and means necessary to accept payments owed to them, new survey data suggest. Cambridge, Mass.-based NaviNet Inc. surveyed 1,279 health care providers May 6 to 26 in conjunction with the Healthcare Finance Conference held earlier this month in Seattle. According to the survey results, 49% of health care providers cannot calculate patients' financial responsibility for services, beyond the copayment amount, until after claims are submitted and processed. Some 31% of providers said they are losing revenue because of this inability to assess and collect payments. One in five doctors do not accept credit or debit cards. Among doctors that accept cards, 87% accept cards only for copayments, the survey found. The top reasons providers said they do not accept credit and debit cards include high processing fees and hardware costs. NaviNet cited a recent National Association of Healthcare Access Management report suggesting the probability of a provider collecting the full amount of a patient payment drops to less than 20% after care is provided. The findings underscore the need for providers to improve their ability to assess patient eligibility for services, determine the amount owed and collect payment at the time of the service, NaviNet says.

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