Hospital procedures are becoming increasingly expensive, so it was only a matter of time before buy now, pay later platforms entered the market.
This week, lending platform Openpay announced that it had entered into a partnership with hospital provider St John of God Health Care, enabling patients to split their medical bills into four instalments.
The buy now, pay later hospital procedures scheme will operate as a six-month trial across St John of God Health Care hospitals in Victoria and Western Australia.
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Patients will be able to spread their hospital costs for elective surgery procedures across plans ranging from two to 12 months during the trial of the buy now, pay later scheme.
The hospitals participating in the initial launch are St John of God Murdoch and Mt Lawley Hospitals in Perth and St John of God Berwick Hospital in southeast Melbourne.
Once the six-month trial ends, both Openpay and St John of God Health Care will decide whether the scheme is worth pursuing as a full rollout across all hospitals in their network.
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St John of God Health Care chief operating officer Bryan Pyne said that the buy now, pay later scheme could present a more affordable option for elective surgery for those patients not covered by private health insurance.
“There has always been a portion of patients who choose to self-fund their healthcare costs,” Mr Pyne explained. “Research conducted with these patients indicated an appetite for greater flexibility and availability of payment options, including the ability to smooth costs.
“This partnership expands choice for these individuals and will provide a flexible alternative to self-funding procedures while minimising the burden of a lump sum payment for the cohort of patients that elect not to take out private health insurance.
“It provides these patients with more options to access private healthcare when they want it, allows them to choose their doctor and hospital, and to avoid long delays in accessing specialist care,” he explained.
Openpay chief executive Michael Eidel said the move into covering elective surgery was a natural extension of their healthcare offerings.
“We have seen in other areas of healthcare how important it is to provide a flexible budgeting tool to enable patients to access the care they need at the time they need it,” Mr Eidel said.
“This partnership also provides patients the option to pay for elective surgery with the support of Openpay’s flexible plans.
“It is a natural extension of our work in areas such as optometry, dentistry and audiology.”
Have you delayed elective surgery because you don’t have private health insurance? Would you use a buy now, pay later option for elective surgery?
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