Starting Nov. 18, Keck Medicine of USC patients will begin receiving a new type of bill that presents all of their doctor and hospital costs in a single, itemized list. Patients no longer will have to keep track of what they owe to different billing systems within the health care organization.
“The combined patient statement initiative takes Keck Medicine toward enhancing financial transparency and improving our patients’ experience by integrating hospitals and medical group billing in one place,” explained Randolph Siwabessy, chief financial officer of clinical programs and operations for USC Care Medical Group and Ambulatory Services.
To make the transition as smooth as possible, a two-week hold was placed on billing on Nov. 4.
The current system
Keck Medicine currently has three different billing systems, which means that patients currently receive three different bills: for Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital; for USC Verdugo Hills Hospital; and for USC Care Medical Group. If they’ve opted for paperless service, they visit three different websites to view and pay their obligations.
Benefits of a new approach
The new, consolidated bill is arranged in a clear format listing services and charges by hospital and physician, with the total provided at the bottom. It includes all of the different payment options available — which now include Google Pay or Apple Pay — along with instructions for each option. It also includes a number to call for a new, streamlined customer service experience.
“We know that the patient obligation is sometimes a maze,” said Jennifer Tryfon, supervisor of Patient Accounting. “And we wanted to make it an easier process and have everything on the same platform, same bill, same website.”
Patients who can only pay one part of their bill will be able to do so, although remaining balances will proceed through the regular collection process. Previous payment plan and financial assistance systems will still be available.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is Keck Medicine changing their billing system?
The billing departments of Keck Medicine determined that it would be more helpful to patients to have a single, consolidated system. The goal is to minimize confusion, increase transparency and offer patients more ways to pay.
What if I only owe money to my doctor?
If you only owe money to one system — for example, your doctor — then the bill will only show those charges. You won’t need to worry about parts of the Keck Medicine system that you don’t owe money to.
Will the new bills show me what services I owe money for?
Yes, each appointment or service you’re being charged for will be clearly listed beside the amount due.
With a new billing system, does that mean I have to learn a new payment system?
Yes, but the goal is for this system to be much easier. Paper bills will be easier to understand, and the payment website will be more user-friendly. You’ll also have additional payment options, with instructions for each option printed on the bills and on the website.
What if I can pay one part of my bill, but not the others?
You can select which portions you’re ready to pay.
What if I need a payment plan?
Keck Medicine’s payment plan options will remain in place.
What if I need financial assistance?
Financial assistance will still be available. Application information will be available on your paper bill, on the billing website and posted in areas such as waiting rooms.
— Kate Faye