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Beyond Tuition: Flywire Gets Into Medical Payments

BostInno – By Dylan Martin

Flywire, the MIT-born startup that was known as peerTransfer until last month, is no longer just in the business of processing international tuition payments.

The Boston startup on Monday said its launching a new service to process payments for people seeking medical treatment overseas, a growing sector known as medical tourism. It’s aimed primarily at people who seek specialized treatments outside of their home country, either because of long wait times, availability, the high cost of home care or because they wish to recover away from friends and family.

Mike Massaro, CEO of Flywire, told BostInno it’s expected to start processing international payments with two or three U.S. hospitals by the end of the year or beginning of next year, though he added the startup isn’t ready to announce the names of those hospitals. Massaro is making an announcement at this year’s Money20/20, a payments conference in Las Vegas. The company’s tuition payments business already processes $2 billion annually.

“The payment challenges faced by hospitals and their international patients are similar to those faced by educational institutions and their international students,” he said. “A significant percentage of international patients pay for care abroad themselves, without the involvement of insurance companies. It’s a stressful time and patients want the peace of mind knowing that the payment side of their treatment is taken care of, so they can focus on getting better. On the hospital side, the reconciliation issues for international payments can be complex and time-consuming. The more efficiently the hospital can confirm payment, the better it is for everyone involved.”

Like the international education market, Massaro said Flywire sees a growing opportunity in medical tourism. According to medical tourism group Patients Beyond Borders, roughly 11 million patients look for healthcare outside of their home country every year. The medical tourism sector is estimated be worth as much as $40 billion annually, growing at a rate of 15 to 25 percent every year.

Using Flywire’s cloud-based service, patients can use their local currency and a multitude of online and offline payment options to pay for their medical treatment. Massaro said Flywire provides a better service other vendors that process international payments because funds can be transferred quickly and at discounted conversion rates. The startup also provides 24/7 customer service.

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