(Australian Associated Press)
Paying for elective surgery using a buy now, pay later service is being trialled by a major healthcare provider and technology group Openpay.
Openpay, an Australian company which targets industry groups, on Monday claimed it was the first company of its kind to sign a hospital operator after St John of God Health Care agreed to trial its service.
The Catholic healthcare provider, which runs hospitals in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, is allowing patients to pay for elective surgery through instalments via Openpay.
Two hospitals in Perth, St John of God Murdoch and Mt Lawley, and one in Melbourne, St John of God Berwick, are the initial facilities to offer the payment service.
Patients are being offered payment plans ranging from two to 12 months during the six month trial.
The healthcare provider’s chief operating officer for hospitals, Bryan Payne, said staff still encouraged people to buy private health insurance but recognised some chose not to be covered.
He said the Openpay arrangement allowed patients who choose not to have private health insurance to minimise the burden of a lump sum payment.
Openpay boss Michael Eidel said the deal followed the company’s work with health providers in optometry, dentistry and audiology.
Buy now, pay later providers have mostly targeted fashion-conscious young adults, spruiking access to their services at clothing retailers.
The services have proven popular with young people as they are perceived as easier to access, rather than the scrutiny that may come in applying for a credit card.
Many providers, including Openpay, do not charge interest but instead late fees for missed payments.
Most providers also charge a fee to the business as part of a sale.
Shares were down 1.52 per cent to $2.60 at 1539 AEDT.