Financial Medical Partnership

Competitive finance arrangements for private patients being offered by doctors, to develop their self-pay market


29 Oct 2007 by Mr M. Reeves MICM, Dr C.A.Jenner MB BS, FRCA

Introduction
 
Self-pay market has emerged as a major section of the healthcare sector in the UK. Patients are increasingly moving away from insurance covers, both private and government, choosing not to avail any form of free medical care.
 
Such consumer trends have entirely changed the way the healthcare sector has been marketing its services to the private patients.
 
In the further sections, we present a detailed analysis of this trend, along with the vast series of competitive finance options and arrangements offered by the physicians to such self-pay patients.
 
Loans and Assistance
 
Physicians and doctors take full cognizance of the emerging trend which clearly reflects the patient's preference towards the self-pay system.
 
However, patients who intend to avail of this option face a series of hardships in arranging financial help for their treatment. Nowadays, a majority of healthcare centres offer easy-to-arrange medical loans and other options for the assistance of this category of patients.
 
For instance, according to news reports, the BUPA hospitals work with First Medical Loans, a company that specialises in medical loans. Such companies offer a wide number of finance plans to suit every individual's needs and resources.
 
Specialised Payment Plans
 
Research also shows that in addition to offering help for arranging loans, most of the healthcare centres actually follow specifically designed strategies for the self-pay patients. At such centres, amount payable by the self-pay patients is actually individualised on a patient-to-patient basis, in specific context of their financial position.
 
This also implies that the fee structure for the self-pay patients is usually not a generalised one and specific incentives are offered to different patients, in accordance with their situation.
 
The written payment policies of the healthcare centres offering attractive financial arrangements for self-pay patients often carry the details of the discounts and incentives on offer for this category of patients.


Medical Credit Cards
 
In addition, some healthcare centres also offer incentives like medical credit cards for the purpose. Such offers were originally introduced in the light of research findings that cited complex hospital billing processes or unattainable hospital-negotiated payment plans as the cause of not being able to pay-up.
 
In such a system, the doctors or the healthcare centres operate these cards through partnerships with local lending banks or other related financial associations. Such cards reportedly benefit those patients who are totally or at least partially uninsured and are likely to incur moderate to high treatment-related expenses.
 
Exclusive Packages
 
With an objective to achieve maximum patient-satisfaction, some healthcare centres also offer special packages for the self-pay patients. Such packages generally include:
 
·         Consultant fees
·         Nursing care
·         Accommodation
·         Patient meals
·         In-patient additional care (such as physiotherapy, if relevant)
·         Medication while in the clinic/hospital
·         Take home medication for a fixed number of days
·         Cost of surgery (if relevant)
 
The most attractive feature of such packages is that these reportedly do not carry the risk of hidden extra or additional charges. Moreover, at times, the procedure cost also covers re-admittance within a specific amount of time of discharge, if any treatment related complications arise.


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