How to prepare financially for surgery


We see two types of consults in our office. Those who have researched for months maybe years, saved cash or have sourced credit based financing and are ready to book a date. These patients are the minority. The majority are patients who have done little research about the costs of surgery or how to get financing. We spend almost the same amount of time counseling these patients on financing options as they spend talking to Dr. Gear about the procedure(s) for them.

We have one employee who dedicates most of her time crunching numbers, preparing payments plans, submitting applications and suggesting savings plans for patients. She makes herself available days, nights and weekends via email and phone because when it comes to finances patients need to chat during non-working hours. These are her top tips for preparing your finances for surgery.

Before you even consult use forum websites like Real Self to understand the average for the procedure you are considering. Then when you get quotes from various consults you’ll know who is high, low or average. Once you know what the ballpark charges will be it’s time to start reviewing your finances and thinking about how you’ll pay. There are four main options:

  1. Pay in Cash
  2. Pay with existing Credit Cards
  3. Pay with medical financing (will require a new credit check)
  4. Pay with a no-Credit check payment plan (will require a bank account review)
  1. If paying in cash you’ll need to have 50% to put down to book a surgery and the remaining amount paid a few weeks prior to surgery. Let’s say you are wanting to book a surgery in six months from now and you put $250 into a savings account every week you’ll save $6500. This can be hard to do so I suggest setting up a savings account just for the surgery and setting up an auto-transfer from your checking account into the savings account on your pay day.
  2. If you’ll be paying with existing credit cards pay down the balances so you have room for the new charges. Also it’s worth calling your cards and asking if you have get a lower APR for a set amount of time so you aren’t paying interest on those charges.
  3. If you are applying for medical financing know that they will do a credit check. If you have high balances on existing cards you’ll want to pay those down several months prior to applying for medical financing. The best option for medical financing is a company like Care Credit. You are approved for a certain limit and then you get to pick what promo the charges are run with from our office. We offer promos that are interest free and some that have a 14.9% APR. Care Credit has a very useful calculator tool on their website to know what your payment would be for the various promos.
  4. Let’s say you have been saving some money  but you aren’t all the way there yet. And maybe your credit isn’t the best or you don’t want to take on more credit. The no-Credit check payment plan option would be perfect for you then. It’s a plan that review your bank account from the past three months and verifies if you have afford the payment plan. If you have no NSF or overdrafts and a higher available balance then you’ll likely be approved. All you pay prior to surgery is 30% down. There is a 15% admin fee tacked onto your monthly payments which can be stretched all the way to 48 months.

Besides the surgery fees listed on your quote there are several other things to consider before surgery. You’ll be paying for your prescription pain meds. Most are covered by your insurance but depending on your plan you may pay close to $200. You’ll also need some medical supplies for post surgery. You might not feel like cooking or eating out so you’ll want to stock the fridge and pantry with easy and healthy foods for recovery. Dr. Gear suggests fruits, vegetables, proteins and lots of water after surgery.

If you are traveling from a distance of more than 2 hours away you’ll need to stay in a hotel after surgery for a few nights. Lastly, you’ll be off work for at least one week, sometimes two weeks depending on your surgery and recovery. If you use paid vacation or PTO then you know you’ll get a paycheck but if not then make sure you’ve set aside some funds for those weeks out of work.

Article by
Charlotte Physician