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Self-pay – meeting the changing needs of patients

Last year 272,000 people paid for a private healthcare treatment and nearly 60% of spend in the dental sector was via private care rather than NHS. These figures are part of a growing acceptance of private healthcare by patients. The trend towards direct self-pay (as opposed to paying through health insurance) is upwards and payment options, which enable patients to spread the cost of treatments, is making it more accessible for more people.

There are many reasons for this growth. While the most obvious is record NHS waiting lists, that’s only part of the story, and here consumers explore the factors driving the growth.

NHS under pressure

There is no doubt that the NHS is feeling the strain. Waiting lists are at an all-time high and for many people, the thought of putting your life on hold, or enduring pain or discomfort for longer than necessary, is driving growth in self-pay for routine treatments such as joint or cataract operations.

Some of it’s down to Kim Kardashian…

It probably started with the Kardashians, but reality TV and social media influencing is now well-established and growing fast. The perfect ‘Instagram smile’ has become the benchmark for thousands of ordinary people, resulting in an explosion in elective dental treatments, from tooth-whitening and straightening to veneers and implants.

These clinically non-essential treatments are seen by those undertaking them as very much essential to their sense of self and wellbeing. The fact that they are clinically not essential means that consumers are having to pay for them and recent research shows that a third of under 35-year-olds have had cosmetic dentistry in the last 12 months, spending on average £3,677.

Attitudes to credit

Another important consumer shift we have seen in recent years is a relaxation in attitudes towards credit. For a generation of consumers, debt has become more normalised as a concept, through e.g. student loans and retail payment plans. At the same time, consumers have bought into a ‘subscription’ model of paying for goods and services. The most obvious example of this subscription model is mobile phone contracts, where, instead of paying £1,000 for a new phone, most consumers take out a 2-year contract, building the £50 monthly payments into their budget. This shift in attitudes delivers opportunities in the healthcare and dental markets for payment options, whereby patients pay for a treatment in monthly instalments.

Adapting to meet the demands of patients

Patient payment options are becoming an essential part of a modern clinic’s offer. Consider the evidence:

  • That many patients no longer want to wait for treatment
  • That self-pay health and dental care is becoming more accepted
  • That elective and cosmetic treatments are becoming more popular
  • That we are increasingly funding large expenses through monthly payment models

To service these patient needs and expectations, the case for offering patient payment options becomes irresistible. It’s simply a matter of adapting to changing demands. The good news is that it is very easy to offer patient payment options when you partner with Chrysalis Finance. We handle the credit side of things and let you get on with the patient care.

Contact us today to find out more about how you can service the changing market for self-pay and ensure that your clinic remains competitive and relevant to the wider needs of patients.

Tel: 0333 32 32 230


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