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Credit Card Processing for Medical Practices: The Role of Merchant Services

September 23, 2021 • by shall

Over 30% of Americans have some form of medical debt. Credit card processing for medical practices is essential to offer patients the opportunity to pay for their medical debts using a payment method that works best for them.

As a medical practice, it’s vital to understand how the fees for credit card processing impact your practice’s finances.

Calculating Credit Card Processing for Medical Practices

Merchant services accounts aren’t free – there are fees.  Many small medical practices are spending $1,000 or more each month in credit card processing fees. Due to the high percentage of patients who want to pay using credit cards, it’s almost necessary to accept Visa and MasterCard.

Your merchant service provider should have transparent fees and pricing so that you can calculate your fees.

However, if you don’t know the rate, a little math can help you determine your effective fee rate. For example, if you have a sales volume of $100,000 and fees of $1,600, you can divide your fees by sales volume. Then, you’ll multiply the sum of this figure by 100 to determine the percentage rate you’re charged.

In this case, you’re paying 1.6% for your merchant services.

This 1.6% rate can then be compared to standard rates so that you can determine whether you’re overpaying. Interchange rates are how much the credit card company is charging the merchant. Rates can be found here, but they’re usually as follows:

  • Discover: 1.56% – 2.3%
  • MasterCard: 1.55% – 2.6%
  • Visa: 1.43% – 2.4%

American Express, traditionally, has the highest rates of 2.5% – 3.5%.

Even if you’re paying a 2% – 3% rate, you may not be overpaying, depending on the services you’re receiving. If you’re paying much higher than this amount, with the exception of American Express, you’re likely overpaying.

Keep in mind that fees vary based on how the transaction is placed.

A card swipe has a different interchange rate than a card keyed into a system. When you choose a merchant services provider, you ought to know the pricing for each transaction.  Transparency is key to a long relationship with a provider.

If you’re switching providers, be sure to make a well-informed decision.

What Factors Medical Practices Must Consider When Choosing Merchant Services

Multiple factors should be considered when looking for credit card processing for medical practices, including:

Pricing / Costs

Credit card processing is expensive, and it’s important to understand how pricing works. Pricing is a top concern for medical practices that want to keep their expenses low. You should shop around and compare the pricing of each provider.

Interchange fees are the base cost that credit card companies set, and these costs change every October and April.

Every merchant must pay these fees, which are often:

  • Total percentage of a sale, plus
  • Flat fee

Flat fees can be as high as $0.30. The fees are for multiple coverages, such as fraud-related losses, bank costs and authorization costs.

Consider Pricing Options

Merchants will have their own pricing options for their services. However, the following pricing options are most common:

  • Blended: Providers that offer blended pricing add in all fees and markups together so that you can see one flat fee for transactions. This is a very transparent form of pricing.
  • Interchange-Plus: A pricing model that we offer. Interchange-plus lists the markup plus interchange rate so that you know the percentage you’re paying to the merchant and the interchange fees.
  • Membership: A membership plan is just like an interchange-plus plan, but you’re not paying markup fees. Instead, you’ll pay a membership fee to pay just the wholesale rate that the credit card issuers and banks set.
  • Tiered: A tiered plan is the least transparent and charges different rates for different qualifications, or risks. 

When you’re doing a large volume of sales, it’s often best to be in an interchange-plus or membership pricing. You’ll need to sit down with your accountant to discuss which pricing model works best for your sized medical practice and sales volume.

Gateway Setup Costs

How much will it cost to set up the gateway? Free gateway setup is available at merchant service providers, and this helps you save money while also working with a professional to get you up and running.

When your credit card processing gateway connects with the most popular business applications, it can help you streamline your medical practice. At National Processing, our system integrates with the world’s most popular business applications:

  • BigCommerce
  • Ecwid
  • Opencart
  • Shopify
  • Quickbooks
  • WooCommerce
  • WordPress
  • Zendesk

Integration supercharges your business, allowing you to maintain your current technology while also accepting credit cards.

If you already have the equipment, can the merchant reprogram the equipment?

Support Matters

What level of support is available. One of the most integral factors when comparing providers is to know what level of support is available to you. Medical practices can’t afford for their credit card processing to go down for hours.

If you’re open 24/7, you’ll need a provider that can assist you 24/7.

Consider your customer support needs and question how the provider will help you meet these needs.

Multiple forms of support and contact are best, including:

  • Live chat
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Knowledgebases
  • Etc.

You might even want to reach out to support on your own before signing with a merchant service to see first-hand how they handle support matters.

Feature Offerings

Once you’re confident with the key points listed previously, it’s time to consider the features offered. There can be multiple feature offerings, such as:

  • Recurring payment options
  • Subscription or partial payments
  • Online card processing
  • Mobile processing
  • In-person processing
  • Security and encryption

Sit down and consider all of the features and perks that the provider offers compared to the competition. If one provider has superior features, they may be a better option, even if the pricing is slightly higher.

When It’s Time to Change Merchant Services

Just because a merchant service provider offers credit card processing for medical practices doesn’t mean they are necessarily a good fit for your practice. It may make sense to change merchant service providers if:

Your Growth is Being Stifled

Growth is the goal of every practice, but growth can come in many forms. Some practices want to serve more patients, while others focus on reducing costs and improving patient retention.

Whatever your plans for growth, your merchant service provider must be aligned with your goals. If your growth is being stifled and you find it hard to achieve your vision, it may be time to change service providers.

Customer Support is Lacking

Technical issues can and will happen with any merchant service provider. It’s not necessarily the technical issue that matters (at least not entirely), but how the provider handles the situation. 

Poor response times are not only frustrating, but they can also have a negative impact on your practice. If technical issues become a recurring problem, patients can quickly become frustrated and turn to your competitors instead.

If your merchant service provider’s system is unreliable and their support is poor, then it may be time to make a switch.

Your Technology is Outdated

If your merchant’s credit card processing equipment is outdated and limiting, switching to a new provider is a practical decision. 

Today’s advanced point-of-sale (POS) systems streamline the payment process and offer advanced features that go well beyond simple bookkeeping. They incorporate features that help with marketing, customer service and other areas of business management.

If your merchant services provider isn’t providing you with the most advanced solutions, it may be time to find a new one.

Credit card processing for medical practices must be affordable, easy to integrate into your current system and chosen very carefully. If your medical practice is looking for a new merchant service provider, we can help.

Click here to learn more about how we help the health and wellness industry accept credit cards.

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