Patient financing: How it helps your patients and practice
Programs help patients manage costs, lower your accounts receivable, improve practice cash flow
In today’s insurance environment, many patients are facing higher out-of-pocket costs, including insurance deductibles and co-pays that can make moving forward with urologic treatment a challenge. A recent analysis by USA Today (published Dec. 29, 2014) found the minimum deductible available for a family health insurance plan at the silver level had increased by as much as $5,000 over the previous year.
While some patients are seeing lower premiums, co-insurance payments are on the rise with self-pay portions varying from 10% to 40% under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to these costs, patients with insurance, as well as those without coverage, still have to manage the cost of services not covered under their plans.
Unfortunately, when a practice takes on the responsibility of billing patients, it also incurs the cost and risk associated with it as well—including increased overhead, late payments, collections, and increasing accounts receivables. Third-party financing programs, as discussed in this article, can provide an effective solution by offering special financing options that have been used successfully with practices and patients.
Third-party patient financing is actually quite common in many health care specialties, including ophthalmology, plastic surgery, dermatology, podiatry, and dentistry. A third-party program can be very simple to implement. Patients apply for financing and, if approved, can immediately access their credit to pay for treatment with monthly payments over time. By offering third-party financing, practices can provide a variety of attractive payment options that help more patients get the care they need, and practices can benefit as well.
Patients often ask physicians for help with billing and extending time to pay the practice, and physicians are looking for solutions to address these requests. There appears to be a trend toward third-party patient financing options in the current economic environment. It is estimated that 3% to 5% of urology practices are offering and utilizing these types of options.