Health Care Financing

Geisinger rolls out zero-interest payment plans for out-of-pocket medical expenses

Photo: Tempura/Getty Images

Health system Geisinger, based out of Danville, Pennsylvania, is entering into the Artificial Intelligence arena, rolling out an AI-backed approach to medical billing whereby patients can select zero-interest payment plans that can be paid out over a timeline of their choosing.

Geisinger achieved this by partnering with fintech startup PayZen, and the health system claims it’s the first in the country to implement the financing solution. The solution’s apparent benefits are that it’s customizable and helps patients more easily afford out-of-pocket medical expenses within their personal budgets.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

As part of the partnership, patients receiving Geisinger bills for out-of-pocket expenses will be invited to pay the bill in one lump sum or over many months on their own timeline. If they elect to pay their balance over time, they can choose from several customized payment plans, without fees or interest. 

The payment plans will be made available to all Geisinger patients with out-of-pocket balances over $250 after insurance payments.

The new approach has proven popular, according to Geisinger’s own internal numbers. During the initial rollout, 82% of patients enrolled after receiving their customized monthly payment plan, with an average monthly payment of $52. 

Geisinger and PayZen are enrolling hundreds of patients in the program each month.

The health system now includes nine hospital campuses, a health plan with more than 540,000 members, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

THE LARGER TREND

This isn’t the first time that Geisinger has teamed up with a digital health company. In May, the health system partnered with startup Noteworth to offer ConnectedCare365, a virtual care delivery platform for remote patient monitoring, artificial intelligence and data analysis tools.

Through the platform, clinicians are now able to triage and prioritize care for high-risk patients because of the system’s ability to analyze patient-generated data and relevant information from the electronic health record. Geisinger care teams can use the platform to transition patient care after discharge from the hospital.

Patients are able to monitor their weight, blood pressure, glucose, and other metrics using a smartphone app.

Meanwhile, in November 2020, Geisinger’s eICU program – essentially a telehealth ICU system from vendor Caregility – temporarily extended its support to the system’s step-down units in part via iPads installed with the Caregility app.

ON THE RECORD

“Everything we do at Geisinger is done in an effort to make better health easier for our patients, members and communities,” said Robert Dewar, chief revenue officer at Geisinger. “This includes making it simpler to afford and pay medical bills with no-interest plans on friendly, customizable terms. We understand that everyone’s financial situations are different and it’s our obligation to make sure our patients don’t avoid or put off necessary care for financial reasons.”

“Out-of-pocket medical bills can put a strain on any patient’s household budget,” said Itzik Cohen, PayZen’s CEO and cofounder. “PayZen seeks to address that strain with technology that allows us to customize payment plans that meet whatever a patient’s budget requires. Geisinger is an early adopter of this technology that has the potential to revolutionize healthcare payments to better meet the needs of patients.”
 

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com