The Role of Payment Options in Health & Wellness Care

Updated on June 17, 2024
Healthcare costs and fees concept.Hand of smart doctor used a calculator for medical costs in modern hospital with VR icon diagram

We’re in the middle of a major cultural shift around health and wellness. Many people are trying to make more of an effort to invest in and prioritize their well-being, and the movement is gaining momentum. 

According to McKinsey & Co., 82% of U.S. consumers now consider wellness a top priority, with more than half of those people saying they prioritize it now more than they did a year ago.  However, rising healthcare costs continue to pose significant challenges to consumers prioritizing wellness, and an ever-changing, unpredictable healthcare payment landscape can leave them with substantial out-of-pocket expenses to manage.

Outside of traditional health care, many of the wellness services sought out by consumers are what insurance providers and assistance programs would consider elective care. Patients who are looking for psychological care, cosmetic care, complementary or integrated care, will likely have to pay for the cost of these services out-of-pocket. 

Too often, we see these expenses forcing people to forgo the care they want or need, leading to poorer health outcomes in the end. But what exactly are the consequences of delayed or forgone care and what is the solution? 

Postponing Wellness Care

The concept of “wellness” has evolved to encompass the whole person, extending beyond physical health to include mental, emotional and spiritual health. Consumers are taking a more holistic and proactive approach to their overall well-being, seeking to bolster their wellness through fitness, nutrition, counseling, cosmetic enhancements and more. These services are highly desired and for some, just as important as their annual physical with a primary care physician. But because these services can be costly on their own, consumers may find themselves unable to pursue these options out of concern for their expenses. 

This financial barrier to care impacts people of all genders, ethnicities and ages who are seeking both the elective care discussed above and traditional or preventative health care. Missing important preventive screenings or annual care might lead to a progressive worsening of underlying health conditions. By the time symptoms worsen enough to force people to seek care, conditions may be more difficult to treat or require the assistance of a specialist, potentially leading to more aggressive and costly treatments. 

For providers, delays in seeking care may result in disruptions to a practice’s revenue cycle, affecting the quality of service they are ultimately able to provide. The patient experience plays a pivotal role in the well-being of patients and practices. People who are frustrated by lackluster customer service may feel less inclined to visit their care providers or spend money in businesses where they don’t feel prioritized. 

Knowing the Options 

Consumers today are more focused than previous generations on their overall wellness, and they eagerly seek out services that can help fulfill that goal. However, they now also bear more of the financial burden associated with that wellness and care, which can hinder their willingness to seek care when it is needed.

Providers can empower their patients to obtain care that supports all aspects of their health — physically and mentally — by educating them on the options that exist, including financial assistance (when applicable), health insurance, specialty savings/spendings accounts as well as in-house payment plans and third-party financing. Financing solutions are an important option for patients to consider in their wellness journey, so it benefits providers to stay up-to-date with what current options are available on the market. 

Third-party solutions can not only help bridge the financial gap for patients seeking care, but they also can help simplify operations for providers. With numerous employees in the healthcare industry already feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by the administrative burdens of their roles, many practices have experienced staffing shortages, particularly in their revenue cycle management departments. For providers, these third-party solutions can reduce the administrative burden of revenue cycle management on staff, while ensuring rapid and guaranteed payment.

Integrated financing solutions — like CareCredit – can automate and digitize the financial planning and payment process, enhancing the consumer experience by increasing the convenience and accessibility of financing for consumers. Access to payment options is key to any health and wellness practice, since they contribute to positive outcomes linked with receiving timely care and can reduce the stressors associated with managing costs — from both the consumer’s perspective as well as the provider’s.

If we want people to be able to pursue a healthier future, then we have to provide solutions to the issue of cost and make those goals attainable for everyone.

1 McKinsey & Company. January 16, 2024. The trends defining the $1.8 trillion global wellness market in 2024. 

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/the-trends-defining-the-1-point-8-trillion-dollar-global-wellness-market-in-2024

2 2022 CareCredit Lifetime of Healthcare Costs Research. CareCredit is a Synchrony solution. https://www.carecredit.com/well-u/financial-health/lifetime-of-care-healthcare-costs/ 

3 Stoewen DL. August 2017. Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508938/#:~:text=Wellness%20is%20a%20holistic%20integration,nurturing%20the%20spirit%20(1)

4 CareCredit. April 18, 2024. Recognizing Burnout in Healthcare Staff and Ideas for Addressing It.

https://www.carecredit.com/providers/insights/burnout-in-healthcare-staff

Erin Gadhavi
Erin Gadhavi
General Manager and Senior Vice President of Health & Wellness at Synchrony

Erin Gadhavi is General Manager and Senior Vice President of Health & Wellness for Synchrony.