Hospitals offering patients interest-free payment plans
Rukavina said the effect of these payment plans on patient credit scores will vary depending on the provider. For patients, the relevant question is when the account will be turned over to collection agencies.
“The majority of lenders really don’t report to credit bureaus if the person is working with them,” said Sainsbury-Wong of Health Law Advocates. “It is at the discretion of this provider when reporting to collection agencies. “
Garnier said providers have historically not felt pressure to be aggressive in pursuing overdue balances because the bulk of their revenue has come from insurers. “Now providers can’t afford to ignore paying patients,” she added.
Two years ago, Memorial Healthcare, a 134-bed facility in Owosso, Mich., Added a funding program through CarePayment as part of its broader efforts to match patients in need of financial assistance to programs that can help them. This includes helping uninsured patients enroll in an Obamacare trade-in plan or enroll in Medicaid.
The interest-free funding program has helped close the gap for underinsured patients — those whose plans do not cover a particular service or have high cost sharing. “It is a huge help to patients who want to pay,” said Brian Long, President and CEO of Memorial.
While Memorial performs a credit check on all patients who apply for funding, Long said the payment plan does not affect patients’ credit scores because the hospital guarantees liability for non-payment. What the credit score determines is whether CarePayment will pay Memorial the full bill amount up front, based on a strong credit score, or pay the hospital as and when payments are made. patient installments arrive every month.
If a patient defaults, the hospital will continue with its normal process of settling the account, Long said.
Thanks to the program, even as Memorial’s self-paying patient volume increased, bad debts decreased by $ 500,000, or 7.5%. “I think we’ve done a good job of helping patients by offering a number of tools,” Long said.
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher