Published 5/1/2015
Jerry Winkelmann

Which Credit Cards Should Your Practice Accept?

New AAOS member benefit gives you added flexibility

Jerry Winkelmann

Four major payment card brands currently dominate the U.S. market: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Is it necessary for your practice to accept all four? If you want to help ensure patient satisfaction, payment assurance, and practice efficiency, the answer is yes.

The rationale is simple. Patients want to be able to pay for your services their way. If that way happens to be a credit card and your practice doesn’t accept the card brand they want to use, it could result in additional billing and collections activity for your business staff. That means more paperwork, higher expenses, and the possibility of lost revenue if you’re not able to collect payments.

Card rates simplified
Payment processors typically offer a choice of major credit cards that practices can accept. Traditionally, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover have each carried the same per-transaction interchange fee for their different card types—basic, premium, business, or rewards. American Express has charged different, often higher, fees for its cards; as a result, some healthcare practices have chosen not to accept these cards. However, according to American Express’ 2013 Annual Report, 53.1 million American Express cards were in use in the United States. Your patients may be among those users.

Now, American Express card acceptance has been simplified for eligible AAOS members through a special program from credit card processor TransFirst. With the American Express OptBlue program, AAOS members’ practices can accept American Express card payments at the same rate as the other card brands. OptBlue provides practices with several benefits, including the following:

  • Simplified payment management—All card payment information is included in one statement.
  • A single contact point for support—Practices no longer need to contact American Express for card transaction and billing issues.
  • Potentially lower costs—Lower rates may be available for American Express card acceptance.
  • Faster payment—Only one deposit is necessary for all card networks.
  • TransFirst assumes the risk and liability for American Express transaction processing and provides practices with the same 24/7, U.S.-based customer support offered for other card brands.

As reimbursement models change and patients become responsible for more of their healthcare costs, convenient forms of payment will be more important than ever. Practices that accept all four major card brands can benefit from faster and easier payment collections.

TransFirst credit card services are offered through TriZetto Provider Solutions, an AAOS Member Advantage Program partner. For more information, visit www.aaos.org/pracman

Jerry Winkelmann is regional account executive at TriZetto Provider Solutions. He can be reached at jerry.winkelmann@trizetto.com or 800-969-3666, ext. 1704.