It was perhaps only a matter of time, but Australia’s buy now, pay later platforms are now covering your hospital bills.
Openpay announced on Monday that it has signed a contract with hospital provider St John of God Health Care to enable patients to split their medical bills into four instalments.
“There has always been a portion of patients who choose to self-fund their health care costs. Research conducted with these patients indicated an appetite for greater flexibility and availability of payment options, including the ability to smooth costs,” Bryan Pyne, St John’s chief operating officer of hospitals, said.
The arrangement will allow Australians who don’t take out private health insurance to mitigate bill shock with Pyne adding that it also expands patients’ ability to get the kind of treatment they desire.
“It provides these patients with more options to access private health care when they want it, allows them to choose their doctor and hospital, and to avoid long delays in accessing specialist care,” he said.
According to CEO Michael Eidel, the deal makes Openpay the first of its kind to partner up with a major hospital provider.
“This partnership provides patients the option to pay for elective surgery with the support of Openpay’s flexible plans. It is a natural extension of our work in areas such as optometry, dentistry and audiology, and it demonstrates our growing prominence in the healthcare vertical,” Eidel said.
A household ‘budgeting tool’
In an increasingly crowded buy now, pay later field, Openpay is going after a different niche to the traditional fast-fashion and retail market.
Speaking to Business Insider Australia earlier this month, chief commercial officer Dion Appel explained the platform was courting a slightly older demographic as it looked to split up large household expenses.
“We operate in those higher spend categories of automotive and car servicing through to aftermarket type products like healthcare, and home improvements, which is anything from a small bathroom renovation or kitchen renovation, to flooring, window furnishings and roofing,” Appel said.
In terms of healthcare, the hospital adds to a growing list of services which includes dental, optometry, and veterinary procedures.
Offering up to $20,000 credit on 24-month terms, it’s clear the product is positioning itself for families.
“For us, our key demographic is between 39 and 45 years of age. It’s the kind of customer profile where they’re homeowners, with kids and pets and all the costs associated with that,” Appel said, noting sports memberships have also been recently added.
In that respect, Openpay actually might be honestly fulfilling the role of a budgeting or cashflow tool that Afterpay and others have long claimed, easing some of the financial burden of families.