Paying for Your New Look: A Complete Guide to Plastic Surgery Financing
- It’s possible to get financial help for cosmetic surgery, even if you have bad credit or no credit.
- Not all plastic surgeons accept the same types of financing.
- Buyers beware: protect yourself by learning how to spot predatory lending.
In 2016, Americans spent more than $16 billion on cosmetic surgery, and with good reason. Medical procedures — cosmetic or otherwise — aren’t cheap.
And since most insurance companies decline to cover plastic surgery when it’s performed for aesthetic reasons, patients often end up footing some very large bills.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of paying for a coveted procedure, and looking at the wide range of payment options doesn’t leave many people feeling much better. That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer some of the most pressing questions about financing cosmetic surgery.
- 1 How much does plastic surgery cost?
- 2 Will insurance cover my procedure?
- 3 Do plastic surgeons offer payment plans?
- 4 What is a medical credit card?
- 5 What are medical loans?
- 6 Why won’t my surgeon accept my financing?
- 7 Can I get financed for plastic surgery if I have bad credit?
- 8 Which plastic surgery financing options are the best?
- 9 How do I avoid scams?
- 10 The bottom line
How much does plastic surgery cost?
Obviously, cost depends on the procedure. It also depends on who’s performing it.
Non-invasive cosmetic treatments such as chemical peels and Botox injections will likely cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars. But if you’re electing to get full-on cosmetic surgery, expect to pay thousands.
These numbers continue to fluctuate when you factor in all of the related expenses.
The total cost of your surgery will include surgeon fees, anesthesia, and operating room costs, like staff and machinery. It could also include materials costs (as in the case of breast implants), your hospital stay, and any post-surgical medications and devices.
What’s more, this does not include the costs associated with any follow-up appointments or potential complications.
When discussing cost with your prospective cosmetic surgeon, understand that the cost they give you upfront may in fact be significantly lower than the total amount that you will inevitably be responsible for.
Will insurance cover my procedure?
Procedures that are essential to body functions, overall health, or quality of life are much more likely to be covered by insurance, at least in part. On the other hand, medical procedures that are deemed purely elective or cosmetic are rarely covered.
Still, there’s no easy way to tell which procedures will be covered and which ones won’t. For example, a rhinoplasty (nose job) may be covered if it’s correcting damage caused by trauma or a birth defect, like a deviated septum. However, this same procedure may not be covered if the desired results are purely cosmetic.
Similarly, a breast reduction may be covered as a potential solution for chronic back pain, or abdominal surgery may be covered if treating rashes or sores related to excess skin.
Cosmetic surgery refers to procedures where “normal” physical structures are changed with no associated medical issues to correct.
In some cases, whether or not a procedure is purely cosmetic is unclear. A breast implant to correct severely asymmetrical breasts may be covered by insurance, even if there is no physical ailment resulting from the condition.
Know ahead of time what your insurance company does and doesn’t cover. Insurance coverage varies from one plan to another, and you don’t want to be surprised.
Do plastic surgeons offer payment plans?
Most practices have resources available for prospective patients when it comes to securing loans, credit cards, or other forms of financing. Some practices also offer in-house payment plans that allow patients to pay for a procedure in monthly installments.
It’s risky for cosmetic surgeons to complete surgeries without full payment up front. Surgeons typically get paid right away, either via insurance, a loan, or directly from you. For this reason, some surgeons may warn against going with clinics that offer in-house payment plans, claiming that doing so makes those clinics look desperate and may call into question their skills or credibility.
If the office you’re looking at does offer an in-house payment plan and you want to take advantage of it, then you can typically look forward to zero interest, and the debt will likely not be reported to the credit bureaus, meaning it won’t affect your credit rating.
That being said, if you default on the debt, then it may be sent to collections, and your relationship with that doctor will suffer, leading to potential issues if you have complications down the road.
When you have your consultation with a prospective surgeon, be sure to address the question of payment plans. It’s important to be upfront about your specific financial needs and concerns.
» Ready to explore potential surgeons and their payment options? Use our virtual consultation tool to discuss your desired procedure with multiple cosmetic surgeons.
What is a medical credit card?
These credit cards are limited to covering only medical expenses. Because they can’t be used in other ways, they are a popular choice for those who worry about overspending on a new card. They’re also preferable to using an existing card, as they won’t take up credit that may be needed for other things.
Not every medical credit card is the same, so shop around before applying for one. Most of these credit cards come with promotions that appeal to new applicants, such as offering 0% interest for the first couple of years. Fees can also vary widely from one card to another.
Beware that some of these cards have come under fire for predatory lending practices. The 0% interest typically applies for the life of the payment plan, usually between 3 and 36 months. However, if you don’t pay the balance before that time is up, then interest rates kick in and some companies will apply them retroactively.
In other words, instead of paying interest on the remaining balance, you’ll be paying interest on the entirety of the original balance.
Don’t let this scare you away from getting a medical credit card though. These cards offer a perfectly legitimate method for financing cosmetic surgery. Just make sure you read the fine print and stick to companies with good reviews.
Finally, know that the card must be accepted at your chosen provider, so talk to them about which companies they’re willing to work with.
What are medical loans?
A medical loan is an unsecured personal loan used for the purposes of funding a medical procedure.
A personal loan is a loan taken out for a personal reason, as opposed to a mortgage for a house, car loan, or student loan. Unsecured means these loans are not protected by collateral.
Basically, the loan provider is taking a large risk — if you default on the loan, they have no collateral that they can claim.
As such, these loans tend to come with higher than average interest rates, ranging from 5.99% to 27.99%, depending on your credit score. With loans between $2,000 and $50,000 or more, interest can definitely stack up.
Unsecured personal loans are good options for people who don’t want another credit card and can pay off a loan in a reasonable amount of time.
It’s important to remember that even though you aren’t putting up collateral for the loan, you can still get hurt with bad credit for defaulting.
Why won’t my surgeon accept my financing?
How you choose to pay for your surgery can matter to your surgeon. Some healthcare financing companies look for “doctor discounts.” In these cases, your surgeon is paid in full for the procedure by the third party, minus a discount that’s roughly between 4% and 10%.
Some surgeons don’t like doing this and will turn down financing from organizations with more onerous discounts.
It’s best to have a surgeon picked out before you seek financing. This way, you can work with your surgeon to find a financing solution that works for both of you, instead of trying to find a doctor to fit a financing solution you’re already committed to.
» If you’re ready to take the next step and want to find a surgeon that suits your needs, use Zwivel’s online directory to find a doctor near you and set up a consultation.
Can I get financed for plastic surgery if I have bad credit?
Lenders look at a variety of factors when considering an application. Most will look at your credit score to determine the risk. Lenders will also consider your occupation, current employment, length of employment, and more.
Even those with poor credit or no credit can find financing if they know where to look. Lenders who cater to those with less than perfect credit will consider your income compared to the estimated monthly payment.
Generally, these lenders will take you on as long as the estimated monthly payment is under a certain percentage of your verified income.
You can help this process along by agreeing to authorize automatic withdrawals from your checking or savings account. In this way, the lender doesn’t have to wait for your payment; they just take it when it’s due. Of course, the risk here is that they can overdraft your account if you lack sufficient funds for the payment.
Finally, you can get a cosigner for a personal loan to add credibility to your application. Just know that if you default on the loan, your cosigner will be on the hook for it.
Which plastic surgery financing options are the best?
The prospect of facing an expensive surgery is overwhelming enough. Who wants to turn around and analyze dozens of medical financing companies?
We’ve taken the time to break down the basics of five of the more popular and widely accepted organizations. These are all trusted companies, but they aren’t your only options.
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching medical financing, then you’ve come across CareCredit, the quintessential medical credit card. CareCredit covers a wide range of procedures, including most cosmetic surgeries.
With CareCredit, you have two options. A deferred interest plan allows you to defer paying any interest until the end of the promotional period (6, 12, 18, or 24 months). After that, interest kicks in at 26.99% and is applied retroactively. To participate in this plan, you’ll need a balance of at least $200.
The second option is an extended payment plan. This plan gives you fixed monthly payments lasting anywhere from 24–48 months. 14.9% APR applies from beginning to end. In order to participate in this plan, you’ll need a balance of at least $1,000. The same plan can be extended to 60 months for a minimum balance of $2,500 and 16.9% APR.
- CareCredit is widely accepted and will almost certainly cover what you need.
- Deferred interest makes it possible to pay less for your financing.
- $200 minimum for the deferred interest plan makes this a good financing option for smaller procedures.
- No prepayment penalties.
- No application fee.
- Deferred interest comes with very high interest rates if you don’t pay the balance in time.
- To qualify for certain options, you need to spend a certain amount, which may or may not suit your needs.
This somewhat lesser known medical credit card is a good option if you can find a surgeon who accepts it. Alphaeon’s terms are flexible, making it easy to find a payment plan that suits your needs.
However, you’ll want to take advantage of a promotional plan and read the fine print. It’s easy to get stuck with absurdly high interest rates.
All Alphaeon plans start with 28.99% APR. That’s even more than the high interest CareCredit plan. But you can avoid that interest if you look for a promotion. For starters, you pay no interest if you pay the full balance within the 6 or 12 month promotional period, depending on your plan. After that, the 28.99% interest is applied retroactively.
You can also try an Equal Pay promotional plan, which charges 14.99% APR if you pay the balance within a promotional period lasting anywhere from 24–60 months. After that, a rate of 28.99% is applied retroactively.
A Budget Pay promotion plan allows you to pay only 14.9% with monthly payments ranging from $99 to $299. Once again, the balance must be paid within a promotional period.
Alphaeon requires a minimum balance of $250 and will cover up to $25,000.
- Flexible options can help you find a payment that works for you.
- Will reach out to your surgeon to get them enrolled if they aren’t already.
- $25,000 coverage cap covers most cosmetic surgery needs.
- No application fee.
- No prepayment penalties.
- Alphaeon is not as widely accepted as CareCredit.
- The deferred interest option does not give you as much time to pay the balance as do other plans on this list.
- Interest rates are very high if you don’t follow the rules or you don’t take advantage of a promotion.
Parasail seeks to make medical financing easy and stress free. As such, they don’t weight you down with complicated terms. When you apply, you’ll know immediately if you’re approved. And the approval process won’t affect your credit rating.
You’re then given a simple fixed term loan with a set monthly payment that’s tailored to your financial needs. Interest rates are also set so there will be no surprise payments if the loan isn’t paid off in a certain amount of time.
- They are willing to work with people whose credit ratings are as low as 550.
- You can appeal to them for financing assistance even after you get your bill.
- No additional fees.
- They do not appear to be upfront about their interest rates, but they promise they are low.
- No opportunities for interest free payment.
Prosper Healthcare Lending
Like Parasail, Prosper Healthcare Lending (formerly American Healthcare Lending), offers an installment loan for medical purposes. The organization promises to cover any healthcare treatments, including several cosmetic surgery procedures.
Interested patients can get pre-approved for cosmetic surgery without having the loan inquiry affect their credit. Once you’re set up, you can receive up to $35,000 in loans and a payment period ranging from 2–5 years.
Prosper Healthcare Lending does not offer any interest free options. However, that also means no deferred interest and no surprise payments. Interest rates are set at 5.99% or more, depending on credit.
- Covers more costs than many other lending companies, including Alphaeon.
- Interest rates appear to be very low, but the company is vague about how high they might go.
- No fees, including prepayment penalties.
- No opportunities for interest free payment.
- May not be as widely used as some of the other options.
SimpleSelect Patient Financing
The SimpleSelect installment loan lives up to its name. It seeks to make cosmetic surgery financing easy and transparent, with reliable monthly payments and fixed interest rates.
SimpleSelect offers patients two avenues to funding. The SimpleSelect Standard plan can last 36, 48, or 60 months and comes with a fixed interest rate of 14.99%. However, if you think you can pay your loan off faster than that, there is a zero interest option called SimpleSelect Zero, which lasts only 18 months.
SimpleSelect claims to have no deferred interest, so if the zero interest loan isn’t paid off in the 18 month time period, it’s possible that interest rates kick in but are not applied retroactively. However, it’s unclear whether this is the case and what those interest rates might be.
Finally, there seems to be no well-defined cap on how much SimpleSelect is willing to offer. Patients need a balance of at least $850 to qualify.
- Fixed interest plans make it easy to see how much you’re really paying.
- SimpleSelect Zero offers a chance to pay back the loan interest-free, without the danger of deferred interest.
- No application or origination fees.
- No prepayment penalty.
- At $850, SimpleSelect appears to have the highest minimum balance of all the options listed here.
- Requires at least fair credit, cutting off applicants at around the 650 mark.
At the end of the day, the right choice for you comes down to how confident you are in your ability to pay the money back reliably and quickly. If you’re in a good place financially, then a deferred interest plan could be the best choice.
However, if you need something more flexible and safe, consider a lower interest fixed plan.
How do I avoid scams?
Unfortunately, not every lending organization is ethical. Predatory lending is characterized by manipulative or unfair lending practices. These policies, often presented in the fine print of their agreements, aim to take advantage of people who are desperate for financing, namely those with poor or no credit.
Look for the following red flags when investigating your financing options:
- Fees for bad credit
If your credit is bad, expect higher interest rates. But if the lending company wants you to pay an upfront fee because your credit is bad, then move on.
- No discussion of APR
APR refers to the total cost of your loan plus interest and fees. This number sums up your financial responsibility. If the lending company is happy to talk interest rates but not APR, then they are being secretive with their fees and are likely planning to surprise you later down the road.
- Changing your approval status
Some lending companies will approve loans or credit cards only to announce that you’re not approved. “But wait,” they say, “Here’s a shiny, more expensive option that would be perfect for you!” They’re hoping you’ll be too tired to keep looking.
- High-risk secured lending
A secured loan is one with collateral. High-risk refers to how safe of an investment you are. Some companies will take on those with poor credit or bad credit as long as they submit collateral, such as in the form of a car title.
This is dangerous. They don’t care about getting paid back — they want your stuff.
- Don’t care about income
Every lender who actually wants to get paid back cares about income. If they say they don’t, then something fishy is going on. These are likely the same types of lenders asking you for collateral.
- Exceedingly short payment terms
Some lenders will have payment terms as short as a few weeks. This can be next to impossible for people to pay off. After all, if you have that kind of money, then why would you need a loan in the first place?
Really, these lenders want to trap you into paying them indefinitely. As you inevitably fail to meet the payment terms, the terms lengthen and the interest rates increase.
There’s no getting around the fact that cosmetic surgery is expensive, but don’t let that scare you away. With some careful research and due diligence, you can financially prepare for the surgery of your dreams.
All in all, read the fine print and let your prospective cosmetic surgeon recommend trustworthy financing organizations.
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