New loan program at PMC offers additional options to patients needing assistance paying medical bills
The first of its kind in Wayne, Providence Medical Center now makes the burden of medical bill payments a little easier to handle thanks to its new loan program in conjunction with Pinnacle Bank of Wisner.
“With high deductible health plans, the amount that we, as patients, have to pay out of pocket just keeps growing and growing and it’s very scary for some. Many are finding it difficult to make the payments,” PMC Chief Financial Officer Kim Hixson said.
Medical bills, especially those with hefty price tags, are often due to unforeseen circumstances and emergent situations, and in some instance require a significant amount of time out of work for adults – whether that’s because they experienced a medical emergency or a loved one in their care did. The last thing anyone wants to think about as they are undergoing tests and emergency care is how they will pay for it.
PMC offers a financial assistance program to those who do not have the ability to pay their bill. The hospital also offers a 6-month interest free payment plan to those who could pay the bill but maybe not in full within the first thirty days. “There just came a point in time where we could not afford to extend the payment terms even though people need more time,” Hixson said. So as health insurance has become increasingly more complicated and expensive, Hixson and many others at PMC wanted a real option for people who were willing and able to pay their patient care bill but needed more than the 6-month payment option PMC could offer.
“We wanted to find something, anything, that would offer another – possibly better – option to our patients,” she said. “I’ve been researching this for years but it’s very difficult to find someone to partner with.” After reaching out to numerous local banks, Hixson made contact with Wisner’s Pinnacle Bank who happened to already have this type of program in place with another hospital.
While no interest appeals universally, the fact of the matter is that many bills can’t be paid in full in 6 months. This new loan program, though it does charge an interest rate of 5.75 percent, has more flexible payment terms, is a more affordable option than putting the bill on a credit card, and it helps to build credit without the hassle of visiting a bank and applying for a personal loan. “It’s very simple,” Hixson said. “You don’t have to go to Wisner to apply. You can stop by the hospital in person or call our office. Approval is easy and only takes about 10 minutes. You’re pre-approved because we recommend you to the bank essentially.”
Providence will work with patients to set up a payment schedule they can afford. “The bank has made it so simple and easy to sign people up. We can enter the payment terms the patient wants and show them exactly what they will pay in interest. When they see the difference between what it costs in interest for various options, they set up payment terms they can live with. This helps them feel more confident about managing the payment.”
There is no penalty for paying off the loan sooner than expected and automatic payments can be set up to come out of your account regardless of where you bank. After the patient signs up, they will no longer receive statements from the hospital. Pinnacle Bank of Wisner takes over all further communication of the loan including sending statements and answering questions.
“I want the quality of care that our patients receive at the bedside to carry over into the plan we create to help them pay off their medical bills. By reducing the stress and anxiety over their bill, patients can focus all that energy on getting better,” Hixson said. “We are so thrilled to be able to offer a program like this to our patients.”
PMC’s business office hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. You may call and speak to a representative at 402-375-3800. Ask for the My Loan Program.
This story originally appears in our 2017 For Your Health Medical Guide. Find this and more like it in that publication.