Consider this…if patients were allowed to spread out the time allowed to pay for hearing aids, then a whopping 48% say they would spend over $1,250 on them—especially if there were no interest fees. This revelation appeared in a recent Patients’ Path to Hearing Healthcare Purchase Study, reported by CareCredit of Costa Mesa, Calif.

CareCredit report on patient behaviorThe study forms the basis of a compelling argument for introducing your patients to low-interest and no-interest payment plans. By doing so, you can grow your practice. So what are you waiting for?

Overcome Patients’ Obstacles to Purchasing Hearing Aids

How do you remove the purchasing obstacles for your patients? First, you’ll need to be aware of the barriers that hinder patients from purchasing hearing healthcare. According to recent studies, factors include:

  1. Affordability – “I really don’t have a significant amount of spare money,” or “I want to hear better, but I just can’t afford hearing aids at this time.”
  2. Sacrifice – “This means other things I need will have to wait,” or “I must discuss this with my family.”
  3. Lack of Insurance – “I am uninsured, which makes this very frustrating.”

The main hurdle is “affordability.” About 50% – 64% of older Americans who could benefit from hearing care products blame “cost” as their major blockage in the decision of whether to make the purchase.

Understanding the Payment Choices

To get past such obstacles, hearing care practices can make sure patients know about financing programs available. CareCredit, a health and wellness credit card, has a variety of finance options! Its payment plans can remove the “price” obstacle from the equation so that a patient is more likely to buy a hearing aid sooner, rather than put it off due to high cost. It turns out that patients are more likely to apply for CareCredit as the cost of the product rises, according to the hearing healthcare purchase study.

Plus there are many considerations, ranging from timing or what your patient’s health insurance plan might cover. Here are some patient concerns to consider when counseling your patients on their payment and financing options:

  1. “Timing is everything.” The hearing healthcare purchase study showed that nearly half of the patients surveyed would seek treatment right away—if offered the right financing plan. This means patients would sign up for a deferred payment plan to get treatment they need now! However, about 78% were not aware of such payment choices.
  2. How best to pay for hearing aids?
    1. If patients are veterans, they have associated hearing healthcare benefits.
    2. If on Medicare, patients may get a portion of a payment. Medicare excludes the price of hearing aids. But (like many private insurance companies), Medicare will pay for the hearing exam—if ordered by an MD. Medicare Advantage plans offer a variety of different coverages.
    3. If your patients have a private health insurance plan, then they can check whether their plan will pay. Most plans may not cover hearing aids or hearing aid batteries, but some may cover a portion of the cost.
  1. Payment plans: Learn about the financing options available through CareCredit. Enrolled providers find that by proactively offering CareCredit’s no-interest payment plans, they can increase hearing aids sales by an average 24%. Offering a payment plan is not just about you, the provider. A no-interest plan can help more patients get the timely treatment and hearing aids they need with no worries about steep up-front costs.

CareCredit Provider PortalCareCredit offers a comprehensive third-party payment system for enrolled practices, beginning with training and support.

  • On-site training, including FREE sessions, aims to help practices “hit the ground running” with the CareCredit program. Enrolled providers have access to the resources at the CCPro Portal, and a certified CareCredit trainer comes to your practice and can customize the training for your staff, as needed. The entire session takes less than an hour.
  • Practices receive training on topics, such as:
    • CareCredit overview (eg, payment plan options, interest rates and fees);
    • How to present CareCredit to the patient effectively;
    • How to process a patient application, either online or through the CareCredit terminal.

Understand How Hearing Healthcare Providers Might Adopt Financing Plans to Help Patients & Grow a Business

“It appears that every major retailer outside our industry has recognized that offering finance is a great way to get more product sold,” Jim Alvord, MBA, told The Hearing Review. He points out that some major retailers like Kohl’s or car dealers, such as Volkswagen, offer 0% financing or 10% savings on purchases when you open a credit card. “The thought of turning into a car salesman makes most of us ill, but it is possible to take notes from these successful retailers and adopt some of their strategies.”

Surprisingly, fewer than 17% of patients were using a third-party financing option, according to a dispenser survey by Hearing Review.  Are you offering a finance option to each patient? If not, you may be overlooking an important opportunity to help more patients and make more hearing aid sales.

Regarding “no-interest” payment plans, practice owners say the plans help improve collections: Patients don’t have to pay high interest rates or unexpected fees associated with some lending products.

What Are the Finance Options Offered?

There are 3 major options when discussing patient financing. These are described below, along with their respective pros and cons:

  1. In-house financing. Your practice offers a finance option to the patient.
  1. Local bank/credit union. When a local bank or credit union arranges for financing the patient’s hearing aids, it spreads out their payments over a long period. The advantage: The patient don’t make interest payments unless they forget to pay the full amount by a certain due date. (So it’s good to set up automatic bill payments from a checking account, according to a community banker/lender.) NOTE: Deferred-interest, 0% financing “deals” can be expensive: 1 in 5 do not pay their debt in time, and then get hit with accumulated interest.

Pros:

  • There is a possibility that low fees can be negotiated.
  • The collection risk does not become your responsibility

Con:

  • Fees might end up being higher than an outside 3rd party.
  1. 3rd-party finance companies. These are organizations that focus on patient finance options.

Pros:

  • This can be equivalent to cash
  • It could offer 0% interest loans to your patient.
  • Quick funding back to the practice.
  • Collection risk does not fall back on your practice.
  • The approval for financing can be done at the practice office and is usually fast.

Cons:

  • Occasionally, there might be high fees.
  • Involves risk: Your patients may pay high default rates

How to Talk About Using Financing to Purchase Hearing Care Products

Try using “Finance Options” as Closing Tool

Many practice owners are not comfortable talking about money with patients. You’ve been trained in audiology or hearing sciences and might not be a natural salesperson. But remember: talking about using a “financing option” is a softer-sell approach, provides the patient with more options to access treatment, and therefore, may be easier for you.

Most finance companies, like CareCredit offer a payment chart. Using this, you can show your patients what their monthly payment amount would be. Ask your 3rd-party vendor for a Payment Chart or online payment calculator. (Your patients can use CareCredit’s cost-estimator to get a clear idea of how much they will owe each month even before making the purchase.)

Check Out Any Special Promotions

No Interest—if Paid in Full within 6, 12, 18 or 24-Month Promotional Period

Hearing healthcare purchases may be eligible for “financing promotions” in 6-, 12-, 18-, or 24-month “promotional periods.” * No interest will be charged on the promotional purchase if you pay the amount charged in full within the promotional period. Keep in mind that there are minimum monthly payments required until paid in full and based on repayment over the promotional period. Required monthly payments may or may not pay off purchase before end of promotional period.

For more information on the CareCredit program or the personalized training session, call 1-800-300-3046, ext. 4125.

A Few Disclaimers You Should be Aware of:
  • Interest will be charged on the promotional purchase from the purchase date. If your purchase qualifies for a 24-month promotional offer, fixed monthly payments are required equal to 4.1667% of initial promotional purchase amount until promotion is paid in full. The fixed monthly payment will be rounded up to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase.
* Reduced APR and Fixed Monthly Payments Required Until Paid in Full
On qualifying purchases made with your CareCredit credit card account at enrolled provider locations:
  • Purchases of $1,000 or more are eligible for a 24, 36 or 48 months offer with a 14.90% APR
  • Purchases of $2,500 or more are eligible for a 60 months offer with a 16.90% APR
Interest will be charged on promotional purchases from the purchase date at a reduced 14.90% APR on purchases with 24, 36, 48 months promotional financing and a 16.90% APR on purchases with 60 months promotional financing. Fixed monthly payments are required until promotion is paid in full and will be calculated as follows: on 24-month promotions – 4.8439% of initial promotional purchase amount; on 36-month promotions – 3.4616% of initial promotional purchase amount; on 48-month promotions – 2.7780% of initial promotional purchase amount or on 60 month promotion – 2.4799% of initial promotional purchase amount. The fixed monthly payment will be rounded up to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases except the fixed monthly payment will apply until the promotion is paid in full.
For new accounts, the regular Purchase APR (interest rate) is 26.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreements for their applicable terms. Subject to credit approval.
For nearly 30 years CareCredit, from Synchrony Financial, has helped millions of people pay for needed and desired healthcare expenses. CareCredit is a health, wellness and personal care credit card. CareCredit financing is available at more than 195,00 healthcare providers and health-focused retailers.
* Subject to credit approval

This content is provided to the 4MyHearingBiz community courtesy of CareCredit, and The Hearing Review.

Image credits: CareCredit; © Martinmark | Dreamstime.com