Healthcare providers know all too well how consumerism is affecting their bottom line. As high-deductible plans become more common and patients are responsible for a larger portion of their healthcare costs, hospitals and physician practices are finding it more difficult to collect the full portion of the patient responsibility.

But the rise in healthcare costs also has a direct effect on patient health, as patients who are struggling to pay medical bills are opting to prolong treatment. A recent study by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that among respondents who had trouble paying medical bills, 31 percent said having trouble paying medical bills caused problems with getting other needed care. Delaying treatment, however, can exacerbate healthcare costs because by the time patients ultimately do seek care, they are sicker and treatment is more expensive.

In an effort to help their patients get needed care—and ensure they get paid what they are owed—many providers are partnering with companies to offer patient payment plans. These programs allow patients to apply for zero interest loans for out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The programs are designed to be no-risk for patients, offering easy signup and flexible payment terms.

For participating providers, patient payment plans allow them to receive guaranteed payment—at a reduced percentage—shortly after the patient visit. This improves cash flow and reduces the administrative costs associated with trying to collect from patients. The provider is also not held responsible if the patient doesn’t repay the loan.

The rising cost of healthcare continues to be a source of stress for providers and patients. A patient payment plan provides an opportunity to shift the focus of the healthcare encounter back where it belongs—patient care.

Is a patient payment plan right for your practice?

Availity is working with Unify Processing to offer HonorCare, a patient payment program. In addition to zero interest loan for patients, providers can receive a guaranteed 65 percent of the payment within 10 business days of the service.