Finding Financing for Elective Cosmetic Procedures

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The cost of health care for medical necessities is astronomical. Even people with medical insurance feel the pinch when they make co-pays or share the cost of prescriptions. The price of staying healthy is so expensive that tens of thousands of patients need loans to pay their share of surgeries or procedures that enhance or save their lives. 

New advancements and procedures used in optional cosmetic procedures are even pricier. Also called plastic surgery, augmentation and enhancements are no longer luxuries reserved for the wealthy. A fair share of middle class working people have also become obsessed with looking and feeling better than the day they were born. And where there’s a will there’s a way. Finding financing for elective cosmetic procedures is a snap.

Topics:

 

Trends and Costs

Medical Credit Cards 

Payment Plans

Medical Loans

Not-so-Sound Financing Choices

Trends and Costs 

Cosmetic procedures fall under the category of elective medical treatment. This means that the surgery or procedure is not approved by a doctor to prolong or save life. Therefore, medical insurance does not pay for any related costs. Health insurance may pay for cosmetic procedures such as reconstruction due to congenital malformation, major burn or accident, and if a prior surgical error causes severe emotional or mental distress.

With each passing decade, people tend to find more physical attributes that they feel simply must be fixed. Some current trends in cosmetic surgery include:

  • earlobe tightening
  • the 3D face lift using 3D filler
  • puppet string facelift (skin is pulled taut by wires that dissolve in the body after time)

There has been a 200% increase over 10 years in minimally invasive cosmetic surgeries in the United States alone. ~ American Society of Plastic Surgeons

All countries report that they expect numbers to continue to rise in the coming years as technology advances. And the number of men getting enhancements is steadily on the rise since there are so many procedures available to them for boosting confidence about their appearance.

Left to pay out of pocket for cosmetic improvements, the average consumer has to secure financing to cover the costs. Even so-called minor procedures can be expensive enough to wipe out a modest savings account in the blink of an eye. On average, these lesser procedures cost:

  • Breast implants:

$6,000+

$6,000+

  • Botox injections:

$16+/unit

$16+/unit

  • Face lift:

$11,000+

$11,000+

  • Fat reduction:

$4,000+

$4,000+

Several financing options are available for elective procedures of any type. The process for getting approval is the same as getting a car loan, home mortgage, or other credit. All it takes is preparation and tailor made financial planning. 

Medical Credit Cards

Medical credit cards are a relatively recent option for people to pay for health expenses on credit. Unlike a regular credit card, they can only be used to pay for medically related costs. Several types of health care professional offices will extend an invitation to patients to apply for a medical credit card, especially those whose treatment costs fall outside of what their insurance will pay.

The office can put through an application while the patient waits and let them know if they are approved (and for how much) right on the spot. Medical credit cards can be used for services such as:

  • icon

    Cosmetic procedures

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    Veterinary costs

  • icon

    Dental work

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    Pharmacies 

One advantage of medical care credit cards is that they usually come with promotions like zero interest for new customers. People also find that they keep them from overspending since their use is limited to medical care. But there have been accusations of unfair lending practices with these cards. Patients should make sure charges are not made until services are performed and that the creditor follows all promotional terms as agreed.

Payment Plans

There are some doctors and hospitals that offer payment plans to patients, but not many. The only way to know for sure is to ask, since it is can be a way to pay with little or no interest. Usually, patients that need medically necessary procedures and cannot pay are referred to a social worker for an insurance referral or other financial assistance.

Doctors’ offices that do offer financing tend to be flexible. Some do not charge interest and will work with the patient to create a convenient plan they can afford. Patients can expect to be required to make payments through automatic debits. Payment plans are binding; the medical office will send unpaid accounts to a collection agency just like any other creditor.

Medical Loans

Some medical offices will broker a medical loan for patients that cannot pay cash for a procedure. Similar to the medical credit card, it is an unsecured form of credit that serves to cover the medical bill only. Payments are not made to the doctor but to the lender that approves the loan application. There are pros and cons associated with medical loans just like any other debt.

  • Convenience of an application decision while in the office.
  • People with low credit scores can get approved.
  • Interest rates will probably be high.
  • Carrying extra debt for a non-essential procedure.

Borrowers that are firm in their decision to get a medical loan should shop around before signing. Even if their credit is poor, it is best to make sure they are getting the best rates before being lured into taking the first offer made. 

Not-So-Sound Financing Choices

Consumers have a multitude of other choices to pay for cosmetic surgery. Setting aside cash in a savings account specifically for the procedure avoids racking up more debt. For individuals that do choose to finance, getting a personal loan from a bank or lending institution may serve the purpose. And although credit card interest can be high, a regular credit card can be used to pay for a cosmetic service. 

On the other hand, some people decide to finance elective procedures at all costs with poor results. The top two financing options with potentially negative monetary consequences are (click the + for more information):

As tempting as it might be, unless the account is earmarked for the surgery, it’s best to leave it where it is in case of an emergency.

This might not be such a good idea since nonpayment can put a strain on the relationship for several reasons. However, there may be someone who will give the surgery as a gift if they are asked nicely.

If financing for an optional cosmetic procedure is the only choice, borrowers must make thoughtful decisions, starting with considering how much they can really afford to spend. They should also shop for the best rates before getting into more debt than they intended. Like any credit agreement, the fine print must be carefully read. Above all, they must be sure to make payments on time to maintain good credit…while looking oh so good at the same time.

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Sheila Kay

Sheila Kay is an author, ghostwriter and editor residing in the Atlanta, GA area. Among her favorite writing genres are creative nonfiction, self-improvement, and finances. Her first published book, PTSD and the Undefeated Me, is a memoir which has been a stepping stone to her involvement with mental health advocacy for military and civilian men and women. She is currently working on the first fiction novel to be published under her name. For more information or to purchase her books, visit Sheila’s Author Page on Amazon.com.

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