September 22, 2022

Paying Medical Bills? A New Loan Program Can Help

Monica Romano needed $2,000 for an emergency tooth extraction and two bladder cancer tests. Romano has health insurance, but she must pay 20% of treatment expenses up to a $6,500 annual cap. She couldn’t afford her expenses.

Romano got IPass credit from a healthcare finance firm, which she claims saved her from living with oral discomfort and bladder issues until she could afford a biopsy.

Romano gained more than just pain relief: her symptoms weren’t cancer. But she pays the price in increased stress from debt and interest.

“I was in a terrific rhythm of working off my debt when I got hit with these unexpected medical costs,” Romano said.

Even with interest rates as high as 26%, many patients are lucky to qualify for healthcare credit schemes like Romano’s.

According to Brendon Kensel, CEO of patient financing business PrimaHealth Credit, 50% of patients who seek for credit are routinely declined.

Most patient financing solutions are only available to persons with excellent credit (700+), leaving 160 million Americans out.

Even with interest rates as high as 26%, many patients are lucky to qualify for healthcare credit schemes like Romano’s.

According to Ngaio Susanna, CEO of patient financing business PrimaHealth Credit, 50% of patients who seek for credit are routinely declined.

Most patient financing solutions are only available to persons with excellent credit (700+), leaving 160 million Americans out.

In a new relationship with Citizens Bank, one of the country’s leading retail banks, PrimaHealth Credit will combine payment services with Citizens Pay, Citizens’ buy-now, pay-later financing option.

The new Greenlight program expands PrimaHealth Credit’s services to patients with all credit levels, from excellent to bad. Citizens Pay President Andrew Rostami said it is their first healthcare relationship.

Kensel thinks Greenlight arose owing to the Covid-19 epidemic. Patients who had avoided nonurgent treatment throughout the epidemic and who had been credit challenged owing to job loss or decreased income needed to be reengaged.

Before the epidemic, a third of Americans couldn’t afford healthcare.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans now pay deductibles of over $1,600 and coinsurance of 68 percent for outpatient surgery.

Citizens view healthcare as a potential market for installment loans, adds Rostami.

Customers will be able to properly finance surgeries and treatments that they previously would have had to take up credit card debt for or forego completely, according to Rostami.

Kensel spent years running orthodontic offices in Southern California, wishing he had more patient financing choices. According to Kensel, the average orthodontia procedure cost $5,000, which many patients couldn’t afford. No credit score was required for many.

The capacity to appropriately estimate a patient’s ability to pay is rare among healthcare providers, despite the fact that many provide “house payment plans” that allow patients to pay over time. As a result, Kensel notes, physicians often lose 25-30% of payments from self-pay patients on payment plans.

Kensel claims PrimaHealth Credit serves up to 90% of those who apply. It accomplishes so by examining over 200 consumer variables, including utility and phone bills, which many credit bureaus neglect.

According to Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education and advocacy at Experian, a worldwide credit reporting firm unaffiliated with PrimaHealth Credit, paying phone, utility, and streaming service bills on time might indicate trustworthiness. These alternative credit evaluation methods can benefit those who don’t have regular bank accounts but want to develop credit, he adds.

Having good credit is no longer a hindrance, says Griffin. “And that shifts the paradigm.”

Griffin thinks too many individuals base personal and financial decisions on credit scores, skipping treatment for fear of medical expenditures affecting credit.

For Griffin, a person’s credit score should never influence Agreements with providers might protect medical bills from going into collections and hence off a credit record.

Worse, the consequences are too great to ignore medical treatment.

He said, “Healthcare always trumps credit.” “Get healthcare if you need it.