The patients with non-covered bills for medical services in Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin are offered interest-free loans from banks. The initiative is launched by the health system and hospitals in these states.
Almost 4,000 patients have received loans from Commerce Bank for the total amount of $6.5 million. This has happened in just five months since SSM Health Care has started the procedures. The loans are issued without any credit checking and Commerce Bank gets a certain fee for administrating them.
Taken Measures Can Reduce Debt Of Health Care
Paul Sahney, vice president of revenue management for SSM Health Care, has admitted that measures like this have always been needed. Now, the out-of-pocket health care expenses go on rising sensibly. There is no need now for the patients to apply for an emergency loan in case they have medical problems, which need an urgent solution.
Though payment plans were already worked out by the hospitals with patients in-house, there were certain problems with managing payments from those undergoing treatment.
Banks have been doing it already with mortgages and car loans, so the cooperation with Commerce Bank can really reduce the health care system’s bad debt, which has increased significantly from $157 million to $204.7 in the course of just one year (2012-2013).
Partnership with Hospitals is Advantageous
Vice president of health care banking for Commerce Bank Mark Huebner considers the partnership with hospitals a perfect match for the Bank.
If a patient shows interest in obtaining a short-term loan, SSM is able to submit the payment information to the bank, and if the balance equals or exceeds 7000$ for the medical services, the patient is eligible for a loan up to the five-year term. The initial payment should be $300.
By the way, anyone who has a medical bill more than $300 can get a loan online, even if the person has no opportunity to cover it at present. Still, in case the patient stops payments, SSM will definitely try to collect the means.
The Measures Aren’t New, but the Interest Still Grows
The loans of such kind have already been offered to the patients in other medical institutions. Chesterfield-based Mercy Health, for instance, started cooperation with commerce about a year ago, proposing loans in St. Louis area.
Now they have increased the number of loan options already and try to switch to the 5-year term loans, without any interest. At present they can just offer a three-year option.
Also, check: How to choose health insurance.
The experts see the business booming, especially in the last 12 months, as more and more providers from the medical sphere look for the partners from the financial area. Ann Garnier, the Chief Operating Officer mentions a double-digit growth.