Healthcare Payment Processing

Healthcare payment processing comes with a particular focus on safety for service users. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures the privacy and security of user data, but as a medical practitioner, finding the right merchant services for medical offices can be challenging. 

At PaymentUSA we understand this, and our platform connects you and your patients to optimal credit card processing for medical office platforms and a customer-friendly interface. So if you’re about to begin the process of setting up healthcare payment processing, this guide is for you. We’ll explain everything you need to get set up. 

First, let’s answer some critical questions about HIPAA guidelines. 

Protected Health Information and HIPAA Regulations

Essentially, Protected Health Information (PHI) covers everything that can be used to identify a patient including name, date of birth, and credit card number. As a medical provider, you are responsible for protecting these details from unlawful exposure. All payment options you offer must be HIPAA compliant. 

What is the Healthcare Payment System?

Healthcare payment solutions consist of options that allow patients to make payments online, in person, or via mobile. Payment solutions for healthcare providers aren’t just for doctors, nurses, and therapists – other service providers such as beauticians also need them. 

Most of these processing systems allow options like debit cards, credit cards, ACH payments, and a number of options that comply with HIPAA.

Although there is a provision for insurance coverage and the government, about 11.3% of the total healthcare expenditures came from patients in 2019. This includes co-insurance payments and deductibles that patients have to cover. 

With rising bills, most patients find it challenging to cover these services with an upfront payment. This is why payment processors like PaymentUSA provide alternatives like credit card processing for medical practices. 

Why Medical Payment Processing has Become Vital

Let’s look at the relationship between card processing and HIPAA to understand why medical payment processing is so vital.

The link between credit card processing and HIPAA

Payment processors are financial institutions that process transactions via available payment options and other services. They include medical billing, reporting, and management services. To take credit card payments as a medical practice, you need a payment processor that follows HIPAA guidelines.  

Here are reasons why healthcare merchant services are essential for your medical establishment.

HIPAA compliance

We can’t stress enough the relevance of healthcare payment solutions that comply with HIPAA regulations to protect customers’ financial details and medical records. 

You need a payment processor that offers a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). BAA is a standard guideline that ensures your practice uses adequate security protocols. It also includes penalties for the processor should there be a failure in the service. 

Patients’ convenience

As a practitioner, offering services that give options to your patients is essential. With this method, you make it possible for your patients to pay off their bills. Helping them to settle medical payments at a convenient time is key. 

Another essential metric that the medical merchant services cover is ensuring your patients have access to statements of account almost instantly. This will help them plan well for payments. 

High security

As a medical provider, cyberattack is a possibility in your organization. When sorting through private patients’ medical information, this is a major cause for concern. Using a system that helps you control access to such data is a priority. 

This is what reputable health merchant services are about. A reliable payment provider ensures that you comply with PCI (Payment Card Industry) regulations. This will not only protect your company but ensure that you protect your firm from lawsuits. 

Billing services

Top payment providers like PaymentUSA assist by providing extra services that free up your staff, such as generating invoices and reminders.  

In addition, our system allows individuals to look at their account statements themselves, with a breakdown attached. This reduces the strain of calls on members of your staff. 

Payment Options that Comply with HIPAA Guidelines

Not all payment methods comply with HIPAA and these are not included in healthcare payment processing solutions. Here are the options available as part of healthcare payment solutions. 

Credit cards

Credit cards have become the number one option of payment to cover medical expenses. It’s easy for patients to pay bills without covering them outright. 

There are four shareholders in this payment option that makes credit card processing for medical offices compliant with HIPAA guidelines. They are:

  • Credit card issuer
  • Cardholder
  • Credit card network 
  • The merchant (medical practitioner)

So, how is credit card payment processing HIPAA compliant? Payment processors act as a middleman, connecting the individual parties by receiving and sending transaction details and requests. These processors offer POS (point of sale) or payment terminals. To take payments, you need a medical merchant account that processes funds from the credit card issuer to your account. 

These payment terminals have unique chip readers that comply with EMV (Europay/Mastercard/Visa) standards. Because this process is complex, high security is important while providing your patients a simple way to cover their bills. With the protocols PaymentUSA have in place for medical offices, you achieve two objectives with this solution. 

Cash

Although they are no longer common, cash payments are still an acceptable method of payment. Since there is no release of patient information to third parties, cash payments comply with HIPAA standards. However, this does not stop you from taking necessary precautions to ensure adequate security for your clients. 

ACH transfer

The next payment option that regularly complies with HIPAA is the Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers. All transactions via this method fall under the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA). Because the association makes use of the Healthcare Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) guideline for all transactions, it makes payments in this category HIPAA compliant. 

With the EFT guideline, only necessary information moves with the transfer, which makes accounting simple, and reduces costs for administration. This is a win-win situation for medical providers. 

Checks

Paper checks are another vital payment method that complies with HIPAA standards since there is no transfer of sensitive patient information 

What to Consider When Planning for Healthcare Payment Solutions for your Firm

When setting up a medical merchant account for your business, it is essential to consider a few factors. Let’s take a look.

The Hardware you’ll need

Depending on your practice, choosing a provider that assists you with the following equipment is essential:

  • Contactless payment: most patients prefer to pay via a contactless option. Hardware that allows them to scan and pay, like e-wallets, is a great choice. 
  • Mobile reader: if you provide services that require home services, you may need hardware that helps you get paid on the move. 

Additional services that reduce administrative duties

Besides providing HIPAA-compliant payment options, finding a processor that offers additional services in its merchant services for healthcare is essential. This includes additional functionality to help remove the stress of manually sending payment reminders and statements. Top software has the functionality for digital patient registration, medical records, and billing. 

Payments for recurring services

Helping customers settle on a payment plan and charge them on a recurring basis is another crucial feature you should not overlook. Credit card payment processors that provide this service can help patients pay conveniently. This means payments can be broken down instead of patients paying large lump sums. However, the level of security must be very high to store data securely. 

Contractual agreements

Another feature that directly impacts your business is the contract agreement with a payment processor. Often, practitioners do not consider this factor until it is time to terminate the deal, and problems arise. Studying the agreement and asking questions where needed is essential. This will help you get an idea of the cancellation fees too, and ask for any clarifications. 

The Big Picture starts with PaymentUSA

Healthcare payment processing has become vital to modern medical practices and services. With the introduction of credit card payments, the benefits are almost endless for you and your patient. In addition to security and convenience, it’s a great way to enable cash flow for your business. 

At PaymentUSA, we have years of experience serving effective merchant services for healthcare providers. Let us help you set up your payment processing options with effective management tools that stand the test of time. Set up a meeting with our representatives today! 

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