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Friday, February 13, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: Milwaukee's HPS aims to simplify health billing process


By MaryBeth Matzek
Ask anyone who's been through a health crisis and they'll tell you: figuring out the bills – from both the health providers and then the insurance company – are enough to make you ill. They're confusing and complicated, leaving consumers unsure of how much they owe and where to send that money. A Milwaukee company – Health Payment Systems Inc. -- is seeking to change that by bringing together healthcare providers and insurance companies to produce one monthly statement with all the information they need to know.

After dealing with piles of his own Estimate of Benefits (EOBs) and bills, HPS founder Jim Brindley figured there had to be a better way and created a system that produces something similar to a monthly credit card statement.

"It has everything on one bill – what the service was, how much insurance is covering and what you owe," says Jay Fulkerson, HPS' president and chief executive officer, who worked Brindley on founding the company. "There's even a payment coupon that you can tear off and send in with your payment. It makes it much simpler for the consumer."

In addition, an entire family's medical bills for the previous billing cycle are on one statement.

"It's all right there and if the patients need to work out a payment system, they can do it right through us instead of going out and contacting the separate doctors," Fulkerson says.

For healthcare providers, working with HPS leads to faster payments, with the company paying the insurance provider and patient portion of the bill within a month, Fulkerson says. Health systems also no longer have to worry about tracking down patients to get them to pay their portions since HPS handles the collection process.

"HPS allows health systems to spend their time on clinical improvements rather than trying to come up with better billing systems," he says.

Right now, HPS works with several health systems around the state including Froedert Health and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, ThedaCare in northeast Wisconsin, Mercy Health System in Janesville and United Hospital System in Kenosha.

"I haven't found another company like ours that does all the things we do. For providers, there's really no change in what they need to do and the same goes for insurance companies until it comes time to send their payment portion in. They just send it to us instead of the doctors," Fulkerson says.

Fulkerson hopes HPS' success in Wisconsin will lead to expansion outside of the state and is meeting with health systems who may be interested in having HPS handle their billing duties.

"It really works best with integrated health systems," he says. "We've been able to make the process easier for everyone involved."

New life for shuttered manufacturer

Canadian American Homes Inc. plans to reopen the Liberty Homes Inc.'s two closed manufacturing facilities in Clark County after buying the company's assets.

Liberty Homes, which designed and produced manufactured homes, closed in 2013 because of the downturn in the housing industry. The new owner plans to reopen the two facilities, which total 230,000 square feet, and begin producing modular homes there again. An estimated 150 jobs will be created once the factories in Dorchester are back up and running, according to an estimate from Canadian American Homes.

Orion cuts

A Manitowoc company that once grew so fast and was so successful that it attracted the attention of President Obama, who came to visit back in 2011 is cutting jobs. Orion Energy Systems announced this week it was cutting 40 jobs to help better position the company for the Orion is looking to step away from its work with fluorescent lighting and focus more on LED technology, which CEO John Scribante says is where the future of the industry is going. After the cuts are complete, the company will employ about 200.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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