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Examining patient financing: Good for your patients. Good for your practice.

Example of savings on merchant fees. (DTI/Photo Citigroup and Henry Schein Financial Services)

Mon. 19 December 2011


We hear about it a lot these days — dental practices getting squeezed by lower consumer spending. The result is less treatment acceptance and lower revenues — and no practice is immune. Economists have even coined a phrase for this belt-tightening and credit crunching: “the new normal.” But, any dentist will tell you, patients electing not to get the treatments they need because of financial concerns is far from what they’d like to see as “normal.”

Luckily, there are some innovative payment options out there for dentists who want to help their patients, keep money coming into their practice and avoid becoming debt collectors themselves.

An Inside look: Outside patient financing

We asked the experts at Henry Schein Financial Services to provide some insight into outside patient financing, as well as their partnership with the Citi Health Card. As always, they were more than happy to oblige.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for what to look for in a patient financing program.

Your outside financing partner should be as flexible as you. You always have your eye on individual solutions for your patients — from the routine to the cutting-edge. And we all know “one-size-fits-all” rarely fits anyone. So you should expect the same kind of flexibility from your financing partner. Look for a payment option like the Citi Health Card that offers several no interest plans, as well as budget plans and regular revolving options. The more options your financing partner can provide, the more likely you’ll find the one that works best for your practice and your patients.

A good partner lets you focus on your patients, instead of whether you’ll get paid. Almost nothing is as frustrating — or as productivity draining — as out-of-control accounts receivable. And who wants the hassle of tracking down past due payments? Keep your focus on care, and let a third party handle the payment process. Just make sure they offer fast payments in two to three days.

You shouldn’t be held hostage to high merchant fees. One of the main benefits of patient financing is cash flow management. But be careful. A lot of partners will make you pay a big price for this convenience on the back end. Keep a close eye on the merchant fee rate for each financing option you select. To help ensure a provider gets a good price, Henry Schein recommends they use the Citi Health Card for patient financing. The Citi Health Card has the lowest no-interest and budget plan MDR’s in the dental industry and providers can save up to 41 percent compared with other products.* See Table 1 for example provider savings on merchant fees when using the Citi Health Card versus a major national competitor’s patient financing program.

Peace-of-mind matters — to you and your patients. No one wants to wonder how they’re going to afford a procedure they need. That’s why the best financing partners provide your practice with all the materials your patients need to understand their financing options right from the start. And they also provide reliable support to your staff so they can answer any patient questions. That way, your patients know exactly how they can pay, and you know exactly when you’ll get paid. Taking the payment out of the relationship lets everyone focus on care.

You have enough equipment in your office already. It sounds funny, but do you really want to deal with another payment terminal, snarl of wires and who knows what else? Working with a financing partner who can accommodate your existing payment processing equipment just makes everything that much easier. For example, the Citi Health Card can be processed through a standard credit card terminal, a touch tone phone, or via the convenient and easy-to-use online processing.

Fast payments make for a healthy practice. We can’t stress this enough. Knowing that you’ll be paid consistently and on time lets you manage expenses, budget for equipment upgrades, hire staff and keep your finances in order. Plus, offering a trusted payment option like the Citi Health Card can help you increase treatment acceptance and patient loyalty at your practice.

Sounds like a good deal to us. Less hassle, more savings, better treatment rates, fast payments and full customer support. If you’d like to learn more about patient financing options from the experts at Citi Health Card and Henry Schein, give them a call, (800) 443-2756, option 1.

* Merchant Fee is the cost to your practice and is calculated as a percentage of the total sale.

+ Savings based on No Interest and Budget Payment Plan MDRs charged by a major or national competitor, May 2011. Competitive plans require $300 minimum purchase for 12- and 18-month plans and $1,000 minimum purchase for Budget Payment Plan. Your actual savings may vary depending upon amount financed, MDRs available to your practice and patient choice of financing plan. See participating Provider Agreement for more details.

©2011 Citibank, N.A. Citi and Citi Arc Design are registered service marks of Citigroup Inc.

(Source: Citigroup and Henry Schein Financial Services)


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