April 21, 2011 — The U.S. Government reports last year more than 40 percent of adults accumulated medical debt and had trouble paying it off, but at the Mitchell County Regional Health Center paying your doctor bill just got easier.
“In most cases this would be better payment arrangements than you’d get through a bank,” said Alan Streeter, chief financial officer.
Streeter says the hospital is now providing below-market interest rate loans for out of pocket expenses.
“This is another alternative for patients to be able to pay high balances and they have very high balances on some of their outstanding loan balance,” said Streeter.
Streeter says hefty bills are part of the medical industry.
“Unfortunately some of these balances are very high from unforeseen circumstances specifically like emergency room visits; we obviously have people who don’t have insurance because of whatever circumstance,” said Streeter.
And this is one way to combat them.
“In these times of tough economic situations, that we’re all in, hospitals are looking for a number of different ways to reach out to patients and provide them other options for financing,” said Vince Koch.
Koch, with CSI Financial, says more than 200 hospitals nationwide use his company’s loan service.
“Payments are extremely low. It’s four percent or $20, whichever is greater so when you look at a $1,000 balance it’s only a $40 payment a month,” said Koch.
Koch says even patients with insurance can run into high deductibles or co-pays.
“More and more patients are getting involved in that form of insurance which leaves them with a fairly high deductible and so the hospital recognizes that and is looking for a way to help those patients out,” said Koch.
It’s a combined effort to get medical expenses taken care of.
“Obviously the hospital is not a bank as well so that’s why we’re looking at this,” said Streeter.
Patients interested in the loan program must meet certain borrower requirements. Depending on the outstanding balance some patients could see payments as low as $20 a month.