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A Missed Opportunity: 47% of Patients Don’t Know if Healthcare Providers Offer Affordable Payment Alternatives

Many patients face financial challenges when visiting healthcare practices, yet about 47% are unsure or don’t know if they were offered affordable payment alternatives.

When asked about the availability and usage of payment plans or third-party financing at their most recently visited healthcare practice, 47% of patients surveyed said they were unsure or didn’t know if they were offered while 22% said they were not offered.

This finding points to a missed opportunity for medical providers, according to the report, The Payment Cure, a PYMNTS and CareCredit collaboration. In fact, among the 30% of patients who were aware that their healthcare provider offered alternative payment options, more than half said they also used them.

The report also noted the need for healthcare providers to make consumers aware by addressing common concerns while also explaining the options that are available.

Addressing Consumers’ Concerns 

“It’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but something else was always there to hold you back. Well, not anymore,” Dermatology Consultants says on its website, before explaining the availability of monthly payment options to fund often costly elective procedures.

Monthly payment options address the No. 1 reason consumers use or are interested in using payment plans or third-party financing.

PYMNTS data show 41% of those who used these options and 37.1% of those who were interested said it was because payment plans allow other bills to be paid and expenses to be budgeted.

The second-most cited reason is, “facing higher-than-expected bills,” which the report showed, with 25% using payment plans and 33% interested in affordable payment alternatives.

Within the medical arena, dentists and orthodontists have routinely been among the most proactive providers when it comes to addressing cost of care.

Brite Now! Dental for example meets this challenge by stressing easy payment options for dental services and then offering detailed explanations on the payment and financing options the practice offers.

“Never stress about paying for the smile you deserve,” the practice says on its website. “We do the most we can to make sure everyone has access to affordable dental care.”

Providing Access and Convenience 

Costs not covered by insurance were another common concern, cited by 20% of those who used alternatives and 30% of those who were interested, PYMNTS found.

And it’s not just human health at stake, as veterinarians also are increasingly getting in on the act, as are health equipment and supply companies.

Exercise equipment maker Bowflex, for example, says it provides consumers the convenience to keep themselves and their family healthy. “You can now use the same CareCredit credit card you use at your doctor, dentist, veterinarian and Rite Aid, to pay for Bowflex Fitness equipment,” the company says on its website.

Closing the Gap Between Interest and Usage

In total, interest in alternative payment options is already significant, but still rising. Forty-five percent of all patients would be interested in using these kinds of payments in the future and 26% report that they are “very” or “extremely” interested in these options.

Yet, at the same time, only 9% of consumers used third-party financing options or payments plans offered by the medical provider.

But by boosting awareness of these options and explaining how they can meet the different sorts of concerns cited by consumers, medical providers can close that gap and make sure that opportunity is no longer missed while provider more services to more patients and pets.

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