Dive Brief:

  • PayZen, which offers buy now, pay later financing for medical expenses, has rolled out a debit card that patients can use to pay for procedures, according to a Tuesday press release.
  • “It’s essentially a payment plan in your pocket in the form factor of a card,” PayZen CEO Itzik Cohen said in a recent interview. The card has both physical and virtual options, and is available to patients of PayZen’s medical provider partners.
  • The card, which runs on the Mastercard network, is currently available through healthcare providers Geisinger Health System and University of Texas Medical Branch, according to the release. PayZen is launching the card “with multiple provider partners nationwide” through the rest of the year, the release said.

Dive Insight:

San Francisco-based Payzen got its start offering buy now, pay later financing in healthcare. It did so by partnering with healthcare providers to offer zero-interest, fee-free payment plans to patients having trouble paying for procedures. The company currently employs about 78 people, has raised about $50 million in funding and has over $200 million in credit warehouse, according to Cohen.

“We don’t say no to anyone. We approve 100% of patients,” Cohen said. “Our thesis is: if somebody wants to pay their bill, we’ve got to find a way for them to pay their bill. So it’s more about, ‘how do we underwrite the patient into the right plan?’”

Hospitals and other healthcare providers pay PayZen a fee for every patient successfully enrolled in a payment plan. Providers offering PayZen have seen a 32% increase in the rate at which patients followed through on payment plans, Cohen asserted.

Previously, PayZen would be presented as an option to patients after a procedure. But the introduction of hospital pricing transparency laws in 2019 has given patients the ability to discuss the cost of procedures ahead of time. The card now allows customers to swipe, let PayZen pay the provider in full, then work out a payment plan later.

The card’s payment plans are customized to patients using artificial intelligence, which reviews some thousands of data points to create a monthly installment plan designed to match a patient’s ability to pay, according to the release.

PayZen aims to position its offering as an alternative to medical credit cards. Such credit cards can charge patients higher interest fees than regular credit cards, according to nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

PIRG issued a report last month that charged medical credit cards with exploiting loopholes in debt protection laws. Federal officials are cracking down too, over concerns that medical credit cards are driving up the cost of healthcare. 


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