It’s amazing how much the American workforce has changed in just a few decades. Not all that long ago, people could plan on the career stability of sticking with the same company for 30 years or more, and retire without ever having to update their resumes.

Those days are long gone. Today, the average worker's tenure only lasts about four years, and that figure is falling. What is fast becoming the norm is for workers to never become true full-time employees in their jobs, working instead as freelancers or contractors. In fact, studies are predicting that freelancers will become the majority of the U.S. workforce within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already working in a freelance capacity.

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Image by Upwork ©2017

While there are benefits to the flexibility and independence that the freelance economy offers workers, one of the biggest trade-offs is employer benefits, particularly employer-sponsored healthcare. The contract workforce is on their own when it comes to health coverage, and in fact, they’re more apt to have no insurance at all. That’s the gamble many of them are forced to take.

So where does that leave us? How do the workers of today make an informed decision on their healthcare options? The move by providers towards price transparency is a huge step in the right direction for consumers, but there’s still the issue of payment. And consumers want choices.

How do providers balance consumer expectations of transparency, immediacy, and variety? It’s not easy. In fact, it's light years away from easy. It's ridiculously complex. Maybe that's why the leading cause of personal bankruptcy is medical debt, because finding solutions isn't easy.

Think about how different a healthcare financing process is when compared to many of life's other big-ticket purchasing experiences.

If you want to buy a car, you can go to any manufacturer’s website, configure the vehicle to your exact preferences, and get a suggested retail price to begin shopping around. Using that as your baseline, it’s then a relatively straightforward process to begin communicating with dealerships in your area via email to compare prices and financing options, then make an informed choice.

If you’re looking for large electronics, like a new TV or computer, it’s simple. You can do all of your research online, determine the models that meet your needs, then compare prices at an almost endless selection of retailers. Many of them even offer price-matching policies, so you can actually choose where you buy from with no impact on price — imagine that!

The bottom line is, this has all gotten easier. We’re not spending multiple days driving from one car dealership to another to save a few hundred bucks. We’re not actually going from store to store to get the best price on a television. Our selection process is being simplified by today’s technological advances. Yet shopping for healthcare financing still remains a tough nut to crack!

This is why we’re excited to be front and center, helping providers leverage modern technology to expand their financing program options and make decisions that benefit both their business and their patients. As the number of self-pay, uninsured, and underinsured patients continues to rise, this is more important than ever for providers.

We’re helping hospitals automate their payment and eligibility screening at the point of service, bringing them, and their patients, a full array of best payer choices from a network of government, market, and social options. This enables both parties to instantly consider every coverage option, so they can maximize reimbursement and coverage opportunities while streamlining what is often a protracted and frustrating process.

As the freelance economy grows, we’ll be there to help healthcare providers grow alongside them, using the bridge of technology to connect patients with coverage programs when they need them most.