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Flexible Patient Financing is Now a Necessity

Analysis  |  By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   January 28, 2020

More patients are using their financial experience to make healthcare decisions, making financing programs a requirement of doing business.

Adding to the growing chorus of need for flexible patient financing options is a new study showing that 37% of patients would opt to forgo treatment without a patient financing program.

The finding is part of the ClearBalance 2019 Healthcare Consumerism study, conducted in partnership with Porter Research.

The survey shows that patient financing programs have moved from a "nice to have" perk to a "need to have" requirement, as more patients are using their financial experience to make healthcare decisions.

In addition, ClearBalance cites data from The Advisory Board Company showing that "a patient who returns to a health system within 18 months generates six times worth the revenue of the initial visit."

The Healthcare Consumerism study shows that:

  • 75% of survey respondents ask about payment options
  • 87% of survey respondents expect their healthcare provider to offer long-term financing
  • 89% of survey respondents say they need more than 12 months to repay their healthcare expense

Although patient financing programs aren't new, health systems are increasingly changing the way the offer them to patients.

For instance, last year, Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C., expanded its payment plan program to make it more flexible and available to all patients. Depending on the balance, patients can set up payment schedule options with no interest charged for up to three years.

"Having an extended payment plan that is consumer friendly is a competitive advantage for our health system," Mike Simms, Cone Health's vice president of revenue cycle, told HealthLeaders at the time.

Health systems often partner with outside companies to offer such financing programs. Cone Health partnered with the company AccessOne, for instance.

ClearBalance is another one of those companies (it counts among its partners Baylor Scott & White Health and Hackensack Meridian Health) and its new study showed that 90% of patient respondents say they are very likely to return to the health system based on the availability of the ClearBalance zero-interest financing program.

In addition, 88% say they will recommend the health system to family and friends.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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