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MEDICAL CREDIT – ARE YOUR RESOURCES PROTECTED?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

 

          A medical credit card (dedicated solely to health purchases) can be a handy item in our wallets.   Like most existing lines of credit, it allows us to obtain the services we want, when we want them, and separates an inconvenient outlay of cash into smaller payments made over time.  Unlike procedure-specific (one time) medical financing, once this line of credit has been established, as the debt is repaid, the line of credit is available to you for reuse according to your needs and desires.

Maybe you’ve been considering a procedure with Dr. Castillo, such as facelift, tummy tuck, breast augmentation or liposuction; or perhaps you’ve been waiting for the “sun season” to end and want to schedule the laser resurfacing skin rejuvenation that you’ve dreamed of.  Sometimes patients request financing options or want to take advantage of an interest-free credit offer.

At Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Clinic, Illinois Plastic Surgeon, G. D. Castillo, MD, investigated all the revolving medical credit card possibilities before choosing Care Credit as the only dedicated-medical-use card that we process.  Of prime consideration in this decision was the level of financial security for our patients built into their system.  How secure is your Care Credit purchase at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, you ask?  Extremely secure, we answer!

You’ve probably become accustomed to the cavalier acceptance of credit/debit cards and bank checks that has become commonplace.  Have you wondered why your bank check is given back to you at the time of purchase from some larger merchants?  It’s because using a check at these establishments is similar to utilizing a debit card.  The tendered amount is electronically confirmed as available at the register, and deducted from your account at the time of purchase.  The advent of immediate electronic fund transfers has all but made ID checking obsolete.  This may protect the merchant during the exchange, but how does it protect you?  When was the last time a cashier asked you for identification when you handed over your bank check or credit card for payment?  In my personal experience, it’s been rare for a very long time and that’s not a good thing.   I make it a point to say “thank you” when a cashier takes the time to look at my credit card signature or ask for additional ID.

When it comes to personal finances, purchasing convenience (although important) is not my first concern.  What is most important to me is:

 

  1. Security
  2. More Security
  3. ADDITIONAL SECURITY

Did you know that every Care Credit transaction must be done in person by an authorized cardholder and requires two additional forms of identification to be presented at the time of purchase?  Did you know that the person processing the transaction has to record the IDs utilized during this step and that the cardholder has to acknowledge via signature that this additional security step has been taken.  This process is required for each and every transaction, regardless of how familiar the cardholder is to the processor.

For these reasons, if done correctly, you should never experience over-the-phone Care Credit transactions and you should never hear “that’s okay, your information is on file.”

I know that this may sound inconvenient to some in our fast-paced, “I want it yesterday” society, but when it comes to personal finances, security trumps convenience every time – our patient’s investment in themselves both deserves and demands our protection of their financial resources.

So, when you call in a mail order and are told that we no longer have access to the credit card number you utilized yesterday, or you see me glance at the front and back of your card before processing payment, please understand that your security is our prime concern.

 

 

 

THE PAPER TRAIL – INSURANCE AND MEDICAL NECESSITY

Friday, June 28th, 2013

In Illinois Plastic Surgeon, G. D. Castillo, MD’s  practice, we do help patients whose cases qualify as medically necessary procedures; i.e., upper blepharoplasty https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/cosmetic-surgery/eyelid-surgery.cfm for vision constriction (excess skin obscuring vision),  or septoplasty https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/cosmetic-surgery/rhinoplasty.cfm  to correct a nasal obstruction that interferes with proper breathing and causes recurring sinus-type ailments  or breast reduction https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/cosmetic-surgery/breast-reduction.cfm to correct gigantomastia (overly-large breasts) resulting in postural changes causing neck and back pain, mastodynia (breast pain), dermatitis (skin irritation) and difficulty with movement.

When submitting a predetermination of medical benefits for these patients, insurance companies do ask for proof of medical necessity.  What does this mean for our patients?

What insurance companies are looking for is proof (a written medical record and/or diagnostic tests) that the patient will not obtain relief from their symptoms via conventional (non surgical) treatment such as medications, physical therapy and/or life-style changes.  Let’s take two hypothetical cases and examine the process and possible outcomes.

Patients Jane and Jenny Doe present for consultation with complaints of large breasts that are causing increasing discomfort .

Examination by Dr. Castillo discloses gigantomastia resulting in postural changes causing shoulder strapping (deep bra strap grooves from the weight of the breasts), neck pain, and back pain https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/patient-stories/.  They have difficulty with everyday movement and exercise.  They have painful, aching breasts (mastodynia) and suffer chronic dermatitis from breasts chafing against the chest wall.  Their body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range and both will require the insurance standard of 400+ grams of tissue to be removed from each breast.

Jane has suffered in silence for years.  She has not sought professional medical attention for her symptoms in the past and has treated her conditions (dermatitis, neck/back pain, etc.) with over-the-counter remedies – none of which have offered her the long-term relief she desires because they do not address the underlying source of her discomfort – gigantomastia.

Jenny, on the other hand, has been proactive in seeking professional assistance with the goal of long-term relief.  She has sought advice from her primary physician and has undergone treatment with both physical therapy (exercise to strengthen her musculature) and medications, all of which are documented in her medical history.  Upon determination that conventional treatment will not alleviate her problems, her physician has made a recommendation for breast reduction surgery and referred her for consultation with Dr. Castillo.

Our office submits a predetermination of medical benefits request to each of their respective insurance companies.  Jenny’s insurance company replies that the procedure of breast reduction surgery qualifies for benefits according to the limits/levels of her individual policy.  Jane’s insurance company replies that they require additional proof of medical necessity (unsatisfactory response to conventional therapy) and attaches a list of their requirements prior to breast reduction approval.

Both women have the exact same medical situation but Jenny’s efforts have resulted in a positive reply from her insurance company and she is able to schedule her surgery right away.  Jane is faced with the prospect of enduring her symptoms while she begins the medical documentation process or absorbing the financial responsibility alone.

I wish I could say that we’ve never experienced these scenarios, but we have.  It’s important to not ignore your medical symptoms and to seek professional advice from your physician.  The “paper trail” of medical necessity can be the difference between obtaining relief versus continuing on the spinning wheel of discomfort.  Arming yourself with the documentation you need for medical insurance coverage just makes good sense while suffering in silence is counter productive.

Do you have questions regarding insurance coverage or medical necessity?  If so, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-252-7123.  We are strong advocates for our patients and are happy to help.

 

The Beauty of Revolving Medical Credit

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

We have all done it at some point in our lives – purchased that 5 in 1 miracle cream advertised utilizing  20-something television models and glossy, airbrushed magazine beauties, only to find that we don’t look 20-something again and apparently the airbrush is the missing component to our make-up kit.

We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on over the counter products that aren’t doing what we want in an effort to invest in ourselves, whether affordable or not.  So our collection of partially used creams continues to grow while we remain frustrated by what greets us in the mirror every morning.  Yet, we continue to throw away our money because we’re hesitant to invest in a larger outlay of cash.

What if there was an interest-free option to spread the expense of of quality, scientifically proven, medical-grade products that both treat to correct existing problems and protect from future problems? What if our investment in ourselves didn’t have to collect dust on the shelf or adorn our trash cans?

The good news is that there is just such an option offered to you by G.D. Castillo, M.D. at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Skin and Laser Institute!  It is a six month  INTEREST-FREE  payment program available through Care Credit.  This program allows you to spread the expense of Botox or Dysport, dermal fillers like Perlance or Radiesse, or medical-grade skincare into monthly payments that are very affordable and interest-free!

Example #1:  A VIP medium Dysport treatment is $270.00, and with the $50.00 manufacturer’s rebate like the ones frequently available in our office, this fee is reduced to $220.00.  That’s $36.66 per month – about the cost of a family pizza dinner out!  Even better yet – Dysport actually does what it’s suppose to do, so you will receive the return on your investment that you have been missing.

Example #2: A typical anti-aging medical-grade skincare program may entail an initial outlay of $300.00.  That’s $50.00 per month for a scientifically proven skincare regimen that is designed specifically for your needs and skin concerns. Additionally, you have access to our Skincare and Laser Specialist, Roxanne – who will help you assess your skincare goals and tweak your program according to your personal lifestyle.  Imagine the luxury of your own skincare specialist to pamper and restore your skin to the glowing softness you deserve!

The Care Credit medical credit line is revolving, so as you pay over time the credit limit is available to you to be used again.  Medical credit is a resource, why not put your great credit history to work for you?

So next time you’re tempted by advertising gimmicks, why not give us a call at 800-252-7123 and let us help you help yourself!

 

G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY

 

RECOMMEND US ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/DrCastilloCosmeticPlasticSurgery
800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)
309-662-0436 Bloomington

No Interest/Low Interest Credit – Is It Right For You?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I was having fun opening my mail last night.  The first three envelopes were from different credit card companies, and each envelope contained four ready-to-use, pre-printed, “no-interest or low-interest” checks for my convenience.  Gee, it’s so easy – all I need do is sign my name.   I said to my husband, “look at this…unbelievable!  They’re throwing interest-free money at us again!”  He smiles and we spend a few moments joking about the phantom trips we’ll take, etc., but in all honesty, it hit home for me how great credit offers can turn dreams into nightmares if one doesn’t realize the steps to be taken to insure that good credit offers remain great.

We’ve all heard the expression “there’s no free lunch.” Usually a catch is attached to free offers, i.e., “hey, how about dinner and show on us,” (after you spend the next 4-5 hours of your vacation listening to a timeshare pitch)!  Well, in regard to credit offers the “catch” usually comes in the form of penalties and fees.  Credit companies are in business to make money and they cannot exist on profitless credit for everyone, thus it’s important to both read and understand the fine print.

If you never miss a payment deadline for the entire duration of the repayment process, these offers can be advantageous because you pay no or minimal interest while your savings continue to grow; otherwise, watch out!  That no-interest teaser can quickly become a steep retroactive 26.99% with additional $29.99 to $39.99 late payment fees per month if you don’t take the necessary steps to prevent it.   The good news is that penalties/fees are avoidable and good credit offers can be utilized to your advantage.

Simple suggestions to gleam the most from great credit offers while protecting yourself include:

  1. Pay off the entire balance as soon as you receive the bill.  You’ll gain the billing cycle interest free.  An obvious first choice, but not always practical.
  2. Set up an automatic electronic repayment debited from your checking or savings account. An electronic payment receipt from your bank eliminates any doubt that your creditor is receiving your payment on time and their fees or penalties do not apply to your account.  This also eliminates the possibility of your payment sitting in someone’s in-box and not posting or being lost in the mail prior to your payment deadline.
  3. Set up the electronic payment to be received at least 4 days prior to the actual due date. Paying 4 days early allows the extra time for due dates that occur over the weekend or land on a holiday.
  4. If you do not desire to pay your bills electronically, set up a “tickler” calendar specifically designed with flagged mailing dates to ensure your payment is received a day or so early.  For the best result, follow up this method with a call to your creditor to make sure your payment has been posted to your account prior to your due date.  If they say the check has not been received or posted, you have an opportunity to authorize an immediate phone payment in order to avoid penalties.

Today’s savvy consumer can reap the rewards of their great credit score with offers that are convenient and inexpensive.  We at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and Skin Rejuvenation – Laser Institute in both Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) including the no-interest and low-interest credit check offers that come to you in the mail.  We also offer multiple affordable financing options specifically designed for elective medical procedures, and tailored to the individual.

For additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 217.359.7508, 309.662.0436 or 800.252.7123, or visit our financing webpage at https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/financing.cfm, where you can investigate, download and submit your financing application of choice.

G. D. Castillo, MD, FACS, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Skin Rejuvenation & Laser Institute

Become a Facebook Fan of CPS @  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cosmetic-Plastic-Surgery/65943304419

https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com Contact us:  https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/contact.cfm

800-252-7123, 217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana), or 309-662-0436 Bloomington

Financing for Convenience

Friday, March 4th, 2011

February decided to throw one last tantrum before giving way to the blue skies and warm sunshine “marching” us into spring – the season of new beginnings. Historically, it also is the time of year that an increasing number of people decide to take action on their desire to make positive personal changes. This may be partially due to prospective tax refunds burning a hole in our pockets, but I prefer to think of it as nature’s reminder of the necessity of rebirth, shedding our old skin and allowing the refreshing self-image of our mind’s eye to emerge.

Monetary considerations are of great importance to someone considering a procedure or treatment. Many people do not want to dip into their savings account(s), but also do not want to delay their procedure or treatment while waiting for a cash influx, such as a tax refund. For this reason, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery offers the convenience of several financing choices to our patients.

• Our practice participates in a revolving medical credit card plan allowing one to pay medical debt over time. This plan offers the advantages of maintaining an existing line of medical credit that is available for re-use in the future and widely accepted by medical facilities. This option also offers a 6-month interest free program. The rate for this program’s extended payment plans are pre set, and while this can be an advantage, someone with a very high credit score may command lower rates than those offered. For someone in this situation, other options should be investigated before making a final decision.

• We also are a participating practice with an independent lending company that has access to all sources of non-secured medical loans. Some are surprised to learn that multiple credit pulls (more than 2 in a short time frame) will automatically lower a credit score – this lending company has the advantage of accessing all credit possibilities with just one credit pull, thus maximizing the effect a high credit score will have upon rates/terms. While there are no application fees, the patient pays a fee for their services if a loan they arranged is accepted by the patient. This company works for you, the patient, not the financing industry, and the difference in rates and terms may offset any fee they charge for their services. It’s always important to ask about any fees in advance of making any financing decision.

• For those patients desiring a local or traditional lending option – we have made arrangements with a central Illinois credit union that is willing to work with our patients on both secured (collateral offered for loan) and non-secured medical loans.

Most importantly, our patients report both success and satisfaction with these financing options. Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is not aligned with any one financing resource, offering our patients the full spectrum of medical credit that is available to meet their needs. Additionally, all major credit cards are accepted within both of our practice locations to allow our patients to take advantage of the special offers they’ve earned.

All of the above options are represented with direct links on our financing page at https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/financing.cfm. Please feel free to call us at 217-359-7508 or 309-662-0436 or visit these lenders’ websites to have all of your financing questions answered.
G. D. Castillo, MD, FACS
Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

Financing Options at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Clinic, Savoy & Bloomington IL

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

If you’ve been contemplating a procedure or treatment, and plan on utilizing the Care Credit 12-month interest-free program, we just want to make sure that everyone knows that our participation in that particular program will be ending on November 30, 2009.  We will continue to participate in the Care Credit 3-month and 6-month interest-free programs, and all of their extended payment programs (24,36,48 and 60 months) after November 30th, but the 12-month program window will close after that date.

So, please contact us at 800-252-7123 before November 30th if you desire to take advantage of their 12-month plan.  We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of the most-convenient financing programs available for patients!  Remember, we do offer other financing programs as well that do include several other interest-free plans.  Again, feel free to contact us with any questions or visit our financing website page for other options.
G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY
Become a Facebook Fan of CPS @  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cosmetic-Plastic-Surgery/65943304419
https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com
800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)
309-662-0436 Bloomington

Saving money at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Clinic

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Roena, and I have been working as the Office Coordinator for Dr. Castillo at the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Skin Restoration & Laser Institute for over 13 years now.

As a recent 50+ individual, I find myself contemplating a cosmetic investment more frequently than in the past. With so many options available today, surgery is no longer the only consideration when it comes to enhancing beauty and/or maintaining my appearance. (more…)