Extended patient financing options are a great way to simplify patients’ access to care and help manage and cover the costs associated with the services they need. For many, healthcare is still seen as “nice to have” because it can be expensive to budget for. Financing options can help you improve the patient experience and get more people in the door who might otherwise not be able to pay for healthcare.
From stress reduction and easier budgeting to reduced staff demands, financing options can be among the best patient payment options for many practices that value top patient care.
The Growing Need for Expanded Payment Options for Healthcare
Paying medical bills has never been a simple topic, but the landscape has changed in recent years. In 2020, annual premiums were up 4% from 2019 and 22% from 2015 for an average of $21,342 for family coverage3. That’s 12 percentage points higher than inflation, which has risen by 10% since 2015.
But those costs apply to people with coverage. COVID-19 led many Americans to lose their jobs, which meant losing their healthcare coverage. More than 40% of people said their spouse or partner had health coverage through a job lost or furloughed due to the pandemic2.
Many people forego necessary healthcare for fear of financial repercussions, whether due to unreliable insurance, equity gaps, or evolving job situations. In 2020, about a third of US families did not seek medical care in the year prior because of costs1. That includes more than visits of severe problems — even minor visits like checkups and vaccinations were put off. For many, an unexpected medical bill would be incredibly damaging to their finances, so healthcare loses priority.
How Patient Financing Benefits Patients
Many people have carefully planned budgets for which a considerable expense creates hardship. Whether your patients are expecting your service or it comes as a surprise, financing options let them break up the costs over an extended period. One of the significant benefits of offering expanded patient payment options for healthcare services is that you can often help make the costs more manageable.
Patient financing can come in several forms but typically involves interest-free plans paid back over time. A third-party provider with 100% approval rates allows patients with poor credit to get the healthcare they need without undue financial burden. Some private healthcare lenders require strong credit and deny patients who need a loan, causing them to deal with health problems.
Another essential element of patient financing has a platform where patients can monitor their plans and make payments. This provides an easy-to-access, convenient way to manage it.
At Rectangle Health, we approached this need with our patient financing program. With this system, patients can enjoy flexible financing with high approval rates while providers get payment in full and don’t need to worry about chasing down patients who haven’t paid. It lets providers offer flexibility and access without taking on undue risk.
Having these kinds of plans in place can help lower the stress for those struggling with medical payments. It may help them seek treatment where it would otherwise be unaffordable and take a step toward prioritizing their health. It can also help them avoid worsening their condition by delaying treatment.
How Patient Financing Benefits Your Practice
These payment options are great for patients but also for your practice, providing benefits like:
- A steady cash flow: With financing options, you can see more predictable cash flow from your patients, which can ease budgeting and ensure payments are made. The benefit of predictable, lower costs applies to both the patient and the provider.
- More patients: Choices are a great way to attract more patients, and financing options can bring healthcare within reach for many people. You’ll likely see more patients willing to get treatment with more manageable costs. This approach can also help you stay competitive, especially if other practices offer convenient patient payment solutions with less stress attached to healthcare services.
- A reduced burden on your team: If you’re spending hours chasing down patients and trying to collect payments, you have less time to focus on what’s important. Fixed, steady payment plants are often easier to keep up with and can reduce the workload for you or your staff.
Types of Patient Payment Plans
Patient payment plans can vary in a few different ways:
- Time frame: The amount of money your patients are working with will affect how long their payment plans will run. Lower-cost bills may only need 90-day plans, while pricier care could call for a program that lasts several years. A patient’s situation can also influence the best time frame for them, so flexible time frames are helpful.
- Payment amount: Similarly, the payment amounts will vary. These may be determined by the total number of payments, such as dividing a $1,000 bill into six payments, or you could designate a specific amount due at each payment, like a monthly $200 charge.
- Third-party or internal: Some practices use third parties, such as banks, to offer these medical service extended payment options. They often work by issuing a loan for the amount and following up on payments, which may call for good credit scores and additional fees. Internal financing adds more control and allows you to bypass loans and credit check requirements to serve more customers.
The right flexible payment option is essential, as some will still be barriers to payments and care. For example, working with a third party that requires a credit check and a loan can leave out people with low credit. Consider your practice’s unique characteristics and those of your patients.
If patient financing sounds like a good fit for your practice, setting it up is as simple as partnering with the right payment processor — one who can integrate it with your practice management systems and provide other valuable features.
How to Make Expanded Payment Options Simple
To get the most benefit out of your bulk pay options for patients, it’s important to simplify them with convenient features. Card-on-file technology allows patients to save their information for manageable monthly payments and makes automatic recurring payments possible. For practices, these features limit follow-up calls from your staff. Another helpful feature is card account updating, which checks stored card information with the card issuer to confirm monthly validity.
Rectangle Health offers all of these options for a comprehensive payment solution to help your customers ease the economic effects of their healthcare.
How Rectangle Health Delivers Flexible Patient Payment Options
At Rectangle Health, we know how important it is to meet your patient’s financial needs and what that means for your practice. That’s why we designed a comprehensive platform with many payment options, including contactless payments, online payments, and patient financing. Patient financing allows you to offer extended financing options directly to your patients by breaking up their payments over time, all from within an integrated payment platform.
- The Commonwealth Fund. (2020, June 23). An early look at the potential implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Health Insurance Coverage. Early Look at Implications COVID-19 Pandemic for Health Coverage | Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/jun/implications-covid-19-pandemic-health-insurance-survey.
- Foster, S. (2020, March 12). Survey: As coronavirus spreads, nearly 1 in 3 Americans admit to not seeking medical care due to cost. Bankrate. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.bankrate.com/surveys/health-care-costs/.
- KFF. (2020, October 8). 2020 employer health benefits survey – section 1: Cost of health insurance. KFF. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2020-section-1-cost-of-health-insurance/.