Blue Shield of California, CommonSpirit team to streamline patient billing experience

Blue Shield of California has teamed up with CommonSpirit Health and software startup OODA Health to offer a more "retail-like" billing experience for patients.

The insurer initially launched a pilot of its Member Payments program at two Dignity Health hospitals in Sacramento. The pilot was initially planned to last a year but expanded to six hospitals soon after launch, Blue Shield said.

The latest expansion adds 20 more hospitals to the program. The effort is part of the insurer's broader Health Reimagined initiative.

Blue Shield members enrolled in the program receive a consolidated and easy-to-understand monthly bill and have a slew of payment options to cover the cost in full or in interest-free installments, the insurer said. 

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Participating providers receive additional assistance from Blue Shield in tracking down payments from its members, saving time and improving financial performance.

Shayna Schulz, senior vice president of transformation and operations at Blue Shield of California, told Fierce Healthcare that as the insurer looked for ways to become more consumer-centric, tackling billing and payments was a clear necessity.

"Anyone who has had to deal with the healthcare system knows that the billing process and the claims process following an episode of care is not very friendly," she said.

Blue Shield said the program has a 92% satisfaction rate with patients that have used it. In addition, CommonSpirit's providers have reported that the program has eased their administrative burdens.

Schulz said the providers also have greater clarity on revenue that is coming in.

"We're seeing a lot of activity and interest," Schulz said. "I think this year will be about continuing to expand to more systems across California."