Affordable healthcare is on many consumers’ minds, and tech companies like Amazon and Google have been making investments intended to disrupt the industry. Health insurance has been a focus of attention for good reason — but some consumers want to pay for procedures insurance doesn’t cover, yet still find that to be cost-prohibitive.
Elective medical procedures — specific medical services consumers want or require, but that are not covered in full by their current insurance providers — are popular in the U.S. According to PYMNTS, 63 million consumers have them, which makes up as much as 10 percent of America’s healthcare economy. That translates to $171 billion in elective medical procedures each year.
Yet of the 50 million American consumers who wanted to pay for elective procedures for either themselves or others, 44 percent decided against it because they could not pay for the procedures they wanted.
According to PYMNTS’ How Consumers Pay For Elective Medical Procedures Report, it appears there is pent-up demand for elective medical procedures — which means medical practitioners have an opportunity to capitalize on this unmet need.
The most common elective procedures are eye treatments (26.0 percent) like Lasik and cosmetic procedures (22.7 percent) like Botox or rhinoplasty.
The study found that age and income have a lot to do with choice of elective procedure. Consumers 65+ were the most likely to get eye treatments (53.4 percent), while cosmetic procedures were more common with those ages 35-44 (31.8 percent) and 45-54 (38.2 percent).
With cosmetic treatments, on average, costing $4,566, it’s not surprising that these procedures were favored by higher earners. More than one-quarter (29.2 percent) who had them done earned more than $100,000, compared to only 10.0 percent of those earning under $50,000.
In a six-month period, there were more consumers who wanted an elective procedure but decided against it (34.5 million) than those who purchased elective medical services (31.7 million).
This isn’t true for all procedures, though. There is a gap for many between interest levels and going through with a treatment.
Twenty-five percent of those who expressed interest in elective medical procedures actually paid for optical services, but nearly the same number (26 percent) ultimately did not have optical procedures in which they expressed interest.
Twice as many people who expressed interest in fat reduction (9.9 percent) opted to not go through as those who did (4.1 percent).
Cost was by far the leading factor for those declining a wanted procedure. Nearly three-fourths (72.9 percent) opted out of procedures because they couldn’t afford them. Other reasons like being worried about the outcome of the procedure (13.3 percent) and not being able to find a trustworthy medical provider (3.5 percent) didn’t even come close.
Offering payment plans is one solution. Elective procedures can be cost-prohibitive if consumers have to pay for them in one lump sum. Paying in installments is more palatable for many. A majority of consumers (61.5 percent) who declined a desired procedure were not offered a payment plan by the doctor’s office or a third party.
Additionally, nearly 44 percent of the approximately 34.5 million consumers who were not offered payment plans and chose to forgo elective procedures said they would have paid for those services if given the option to do so in installments.
Their spending would have generated around $50.4 billion in revenue for the American medical sector. The value of the market could increase by as much as $18.4 billion if all consumers who were interested in cosmetic surgeries were offered payment plans. The same plans for those considering fat reduction procedures could increase the market’s value by $8.8 billion, and as much as $8.1 billion for those interested in optical procedures.
It is not just to consumers’ and medical practitioners’ financial benefit to offer installment payments — giving consumers options can also improve the customer experience and increase satisfaction.