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HEALTH REFORM COULD INCREASE CARD TRANSACTIONS AT HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS' OFFICES NATIONWIDE

 SAN FRANCISCO, June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The health care reform proposal to be unveiled by the Clinton Administration, which will feature the use of patient-paid deductibles and copayments to keep insurance costs manageable, could increase bank card transactions at health care provider locations across the country, according to Visa U.S.A., the nation's largest card company.
 Although full details of the proposal have not been announced, Visa said that the administration has apparently endorsed the use of "managed care," a popular health benefits strategy practiced by more and more employers. One characteristic of many "managed care" programs is that insured patients share more of the cost for ongoing health care with their employers and insurers in the form of deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance.
 "By selecting 'managed care' as its model for universal health insurance coverage, the administration has endorsed the recent trend towards greater cost sharing between patients and their insurers," said Les Mann, vice president of health care marketing for Visa U.S.A. That trend in the last several years has lead to increases in out-of-pocket expenses for insured patients, which, in turn, has increased the use of payment cards in a market traditionally dominated by cash and checks. Annual out-of-pocket medical expenses currently amount to $1,500 per household per year.
 "In today's environment, very few benefits plans pay all medical expenses, and insured patients know they have to plan and budget for deductibles and copayments," said Mann, adding that Visa U.S.A. launched its health care program to meet rising demand from insured consumers for alternative payment methods to cash and checks to pay for out-of-pocket costs.
 On an annual basis, consumers are now using Visa to pay for $3.6 billion in out-of-pocket health care expenses -- 55 percent more than three years ago. Payment cards, such as Visa, are currently accepted at 176,000 health care locations across the country, including 95 percent of all hospitals, 60 percent of all dental practices and more than 47,000 physician offices. And as consumer out-of-pocket costs have risen, health care providers have increasingly turned to plastic cards as a cost-effective and convenient way to let patients pay them directly.
 A 1992 Bruskin Goldring Research survey, conducted for Visa U.S.A., found that four out of five respondents want their health care providers to offer different options for settling health care bills; 7 out of 10 consumers felt that health care providers should accept credit cards for payment.
 Visa is the largest consumer payment card system in the world with more than 10.5 million acceptance locations and 304 million cards issued worldwide, including 149 million in the United States. Visa also has the leading global ATM network.
 -0- 6/17/93
 /CONTACT: Gregory J. Holmes of Visa, 415-570-2107/


CO: Visa U.S.A. ST: California IN: HEA SU:

TM -- SF008 -- 3071 06/17/93 12:05 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 17, 1993
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