February 19, 2015

CarePayment® Presses CFPB to Support Practical Solutions to Crippling Consumer Medical Debt

PORTLAND, OR (February 19, 2015)–In written testimony submitted to today’s Consumer Financial Protection Board’s Winter 2015 Consumer Advisory Board meeting, CarePayment CEO Craig Hodges urges the CFPB to support innovative financing options that help Americans avoid crippling medical debt.

Fixing this “financial emergency” by “finding and promulgating practical solutions would serve as a powerful complement to your efforts to identify medical debt issues and take regulatory and legal action to address them,” Hodges says.

As the number of people with high deductible health plans doubled from 10% in 2009 to 20% in 2013, many working-class and middle-class Americans have been forced to make tough financial and health choices. One in three people avoided care in the past 12 months because they couldn’t afford it, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. And 64 million people, about 36% of those surveyed, struggled to pay medical bills in the past year, reported the Commonwealth Fund in 2014.

Fortunately, there are promising solutions already working in the marketplace for families and individuals, Hodges explains in his testimony. “We have a real opportunity to quickly leverage these solutions to improve more people’s lives, health and financial well-being as well as help ensure the financial stability of responsible providers for the immediate benefit of the communities they serve.”

CarePayment, according to the Aspen Institute, is such a model of a private program that solves the pressing social and economic problem of unaffordable care.  In a recent in-depth case study of CarePayment’s program, the Aspen Institute said the company identified a market need and “a win-win solution to overcome it, helping moderate- and lower-income families straining to pay medical costs not covered by insurance.”

This win-win benefits patients and healthcare providers: People get the care they need and an affordable way to manage their medical expenses. Providers, in turn, receive payment for their services and continue supporting the well-being of their communities.

CarePayment works with hospitals, health systems, medical practices and other healthcare providers at nearly 500 facilities nationwide and features credit lines at 0.00% APR for the life of the account with no hidden fees or impact on credit scores, Hodges explains in his testimony. These programs include lines of credit, not loans or credit cards.

CarePayment’s proven patient financing solution has helped patients to handle 1.8 million outstanding medical bills, providing people the opportunity to manage their medical expenses over time and ensure that medical providers get paid for their services.  In his testimony, Hodges highlights two of them: 73-year-old Betty, who needed physical therapy but couldn’t afford the co-pays, and Kendra, a social worker whose husband is a disabled veteran and whose family accumulated $3,500 in medical bills on her high-deductible insurance after a few health problems. Both turned to CarePayment through their providers to make ends meet while getting the care they needed.

In a December House speech, Congressman Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) described CarePayment’s successful patient financing program with Holston Medical Group and encouraged more partnerships like this to improve providers’ financial viability and ensure patients can pay for and receive the medical care they need.

Hodges’ complete testimony is available here.