Patient Payment Plans for Healthcare

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The Affordable Care Act is currently struggling with delays and plans that can have thousands of dollars in deductibles. People who are unable to afford these high prices are instead choosing to opt out of the Affordable Care Act and pay the minor penalties instead.

Providing financing through the doctor’s office or urgent care clinic is one way of helping patients get the medical care they require. Practices can provide financing for their patients through a supplementary service provided by their revenue cycle management (RCM) vendor or through a finance company. Finance companies can provide patients with loans that are limited to medical care. These loans are often given to patients who have poor credit or have maxed out their credit cards. The patient can qualify for the loan on the spot, and the practice gets paid immediately, without having to manage this through a medical billing service, or practice management system. However, this financing option comes at a price. These loans tend to have much higher interest rates than regular credit cards.

Within these plans, there are two options: recourse and non-recourse. In recourse loans, the patient pays a lower interest, but if they’re unable to pay, the provider will be required to repay the finance company. In non-recourse loans, the interest is higher, but if the patient doesn’t pay, the provider isn’t obligated to pay back the finance company. Be aware that many popular finance companies may not finance primary care. Providers should check with their bank and medical association for possible financing offers.

Some practices choose to offer their own financing directly to the patients. Unfortunately, this does involve more work, such as setting up the protocols, creating financing forms, processing the payments, collecting late payments, and training staff. Providers will also need to make sure they comply with federal and state Truth in Lending requirements. When a practice chooses to offer financing independently, the higher interest rate can make the process more profitable than if they were to use a finance company. However, some patients might not be as responsible with their payments when paying the practice directly.

A third option for providers is using a service, such as DocPay.com, that will set up monthly payment plans for patients and deduct payments from a patient’s account. Rather than charging interest, DocPay.com charges the provider or the patient a small per-payment fee.

While no financing plan is perfect, there are many options available for a practice to choose from. Every practice can find a plan that fits their needs.

Author: Lauren Daniels