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Patients Prefer to Get Ahead of Healthcare Payments, According to Flywire and PYMNTS.com Patient Pay Survey

January 17, 2019

Most want payment plans prior to service or with first bill; 44 percent opt for payment plans

For hospital patients with out-of-pocket expenses to pay, 44.4 percent opt for payment plans, and some clearly struggle to pay their medical bills, according to a recent survey conducted by Flywire and PYMNTS.com.

“The Changing Landscape of Healthcare Payment Plans,” gathered from 2,837 respondents who had either checked into a hospital or visited an emergency room during the past year, examines existing perceptions around patient payment behavior. The survey looked at how, when, and why patients paid their medical bills, as well as what kept them from doing so.

“The study offers important insights for hospitals and health systems seeking to optimize their revenue cycle practices and payment plan strategy, as well as to improve payment behavior without jeopardizing the relationship between patient and provider,” says John Talaga, executive vice president, Flywire.

According to the survey, the vast majority of patients want to pay off their outstanding balances, but are unable to do so all at once. As a result, hospitals and medical facilities are using propensity-to-pay analytics to proactively offer payment plans to help patients resolve their medical bills.

Payment plans can also reduce how often hospitals have to act as debt collectors—a role many are reluctant to embrace, based on PYMNTS’ findings. Slightly more than one-fifth (22.8 percent) of respondents who currently use payment plans said hospitals made no effort to collect any out-of-pocket expenses at the time of their treatments, while slightly more than half said facilities only attempted to collect the co-pay. Strategic use of payment plans could change this dynamic by providing hospitals a new resource for patients who need a more flexible option to resolve their debt.
Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 57% of respondents would like a payment plan offered prior to service or at the time of service, while 35.5% would like a payment plan offered when they receive their first bill. Only 6.9% prefer calling to ask for a plan.
  • There is a direct relationship between a patient’s higher out-of-pocket responsibility and likelihood to sign up for a payment plan:
    • 38.9 percent used payment plans for out-of-pocket expenses from $50-$250.
    • When expenses reached $1000 or more, 51.4 percent opted for payment plans.
  • Payment plan fees have an impact on how patients make decisions related to payment plans:
    • 33.7% choose shorter terms to reduce fees
    • 17% pay balances in full to avoid fees
    • 25% say fees have no impact on their decision on how to pay


  • “When used strategically, payment plans can put patients on a path toward resolving their healthcare-related debts,” says John Talaga. “This is welcome news for hospitals and medical facilities that are faced with significant increases in patient responsibility as a portion of their overall revenue.”

    A detailed survey report can be found at http://info.onplanhealth.com/pymnts-flywire.

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