In the latest flex on the buy-now, pay-later trend, OpenPay has become the first to enter the healthcare sector, allowing users to split payments for some elective surgery procedures.
The new service will be available in three St John of God Health Care hospitals, with plans allowing for payments over any period between two and 12 months.
OpenPay and the hospitals will go ahead for a trial period of six months, after which both parties will consider whether to continue to a full rollout.
Bryan Pyne, chief operating operator St John of God Health Care hospitals, said in a statement that while the organisation generally recommends people to invest in private healthcare, the partnership provides an alternative for those who choose not to.
“Research conducted with these patients indicated an appetite for greater flexibility and availability of payment options, including the ability to smooth costs,” he said.
“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 added.
OpenPay chief Michael Eidel also said the partnership would offer a “budgeting tool” allowing patients to access care when they need it.
The news follows the announcement of a partnership with digital health group, MyHealth1st.com.au, back in June 2020.
This partnership and revenue-sharing agreement was designed to improve the user experience for people booking and paying for appointments at healthcare practices.
Eidel said the partnership has yielded “excellent results” for OpenPay and will be moving onto the next phase of scaling three months ahead of schedule.
Moving into the hospital vertical is “a natural extension”, he added.
“It demonstrates our growing prominence in the healthcare vertical.”
This is just the latest development in the Aussie BNPL scene. Following the huge success of players like Afterpay and Zip, new entrants have come on the scene — focusing on everything from bigger-ticket items to advances on salary to white-labelling and even B2B payments.
However, all this activity means the sector has also been under close scrutiny, with some questioning whether these businesses really have the consumers’ best interests at heart, and whether they should face more regulation.
At the beginning of March, the industry revealed its BNPL Code of Practice, laying out a set of self-regulated guidelines for best practice.
It follows a report from ASIC in November last year, which found 21% of users had missed BNPL payments in the previous 12 months.
One in five said they had cut back on, or gone without, essentials — including meals — in order to make payments on time.
Is OpenPay’s BNPL for hospital treatments a valuable resource for consumers, or a step too far? Let us know what you think.