October 02, 2007

Now pay your medical bills in EMI

You’ve bought your car on equated monthly installment (EMI), the brand new apartment on EMI, even the plasma TV on EMI. So why not take the EMI route if you go under the knife too?

In an innovative move to make payments easier, the city’s Manipal Health Systems has tied up with HDFC Bank to make this offer to patients.

To begin with, the EMI payment method can be availed of by anyone undergoing the Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery for correcting eyesight. “A lot of youngsters are going in for the LASIK surgery.

So, if you give them some assistance in payment, it will enable more people to opt for this,” says Manipal Health Systems managing director R Basil. The surgery costs around Rs 35,000 and since the EMI option was launched in August, the hospital has done over 200 LASIK procedures.

“Typically, procedures like LASIK, which are cosmetic surgeries are not covered under medical insurance (mediclaim) policies. The EMI is an option provided to patients,” says HDFC Bank SVP and head (product & portfolio-credit card) Mr Parag Rao.

The EMI option is available for all credit cardholders of the bank. The cardholder can avail of this facility for either a 6, 12 or 24 month time-frame.

Says Manipal Health Systems VP (marketing) Bikram Sehgal, “We had several youngsters coming for evaluation , but very few of them would actually get the procedure done. On enquiring, we realised that many found the price too high. After the tie-up with HDFC Bank for the EMI was introduced, we have seen tremendous response. The number of procedures have increased by nearly four times.”

Incidentally, while the HDFC Bank and Manipal Hospital tieup for this product is the first one in the country, such EMI facilities are provided to card holders in developed markets like US and UK. So does it mean that other surgical procedures would also be brought under the ambit of EMIs? Mr Parag Rao was unwilling to hazard a guess given that most of the major surgeries are covered under mediclaim policies.

“The EMI option, you would have to understand, complements the existing payment systems like accepting credit card,” he adds. As for the hospital, Mr Sehgal says that depending on the feedback, they may look at extending the option to other procedures as well.

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