New Delhi: Thousands of patients in need of critical surgeries went under knives, thanks to LetsMD, a one year old Healthcare Fintech start up, handing out interest free loans to them to be repaid in Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI).
The ice on the cake is the company demands no surety or security in lieu of loans given in 24 hours of the need. The steady increase in demand for loans from LetsMD speaks a volume about the crucial need it is fulfilling. Talking to Medicare News,Nivesh Khandelwal, a young entrepreneur and CEO of LetsMD, said, ‘In one year of coming into being, every month on average we have catered to 1000 patients. I am seeing constant 20 percent of increase in demand. My online company is fulfilling unmet needs of patients in Delhi-NCR. My experience so far has been so satisfying that I have decided to push the envelope and replicate it Pan India. Sensing growth potential of financing patients for surgeries and treatment, Angel investors are lining up to put money in my start up.’
The start-up also allows patients compare the costs of surgeries across top hospitals and doctors and avail surgeries at affordable cost. The company has partnered with over 300 hospitals and super specialty chains in the Delhi-NCR region which include prominent hospitals namely Max Healthcare, Fortis, Gangaram, BLK, Indraprastha Apollo to name but a few and single speciality chains like that of IVF and ophthalmic centres. No ailment is excluded from its ambit of financing. It caters to even cancer patients.
Nivesh, a Wharton MBA, conceived the idea of LetsMD with the aim of providing financial access for affordable healthcare for 50% of India’s population that is uninsured and has immediate liquidity concerns. But surprisingly enough, the company is catering to even insured patients. According to him, 50% of his customers happen to be underinsured who need money for add on.
LetsMD has floated hopes for those patients whose essential surgeries are hanging fire due to unavailability of finance. It is bonding big with such needy patients and they are coming in droves for surgery loan. The loan has to be paid in 24 months staggered in EMI.
Nivesh talked at length about surgery financing venture. He said, ‘Not that only poor or ordinary middle class people seek surgery loans, even patients belonging to upper middle class need treatment finance. Only the other day, LetsMD gave 20 lakh rupees to a hospital for liver transplant of someone whose salary is rupees 3 lakh per month. In another case, someone took 45 lakh rupees to save twin pre mature babies. The salary of my average borrower is 27 thousand rupees per month. We have fixed 15 thousand per month salary as minimum for being eligible for surgery loan.97 percent of my financing for surgeries is interest free except when patients convalescing in government hospitals like AIIMS, Ram Manohar Lohia hospital need the loan for surgery. We charge a modest 6 percent interest on them.’
As for no security or surety for loan, Mr. Nivesh says, ‘It is more an article of faith for me. We just see bank details and ascertain about the ability of a patient to repay. So far as question of willingness to repay on part of the patients is concerned, my experiences so far have been wonderful. LetsMD has never hit a wall in repayment.’
Nivesh further said, ‘We empower patients not only by financing them, our online platform provide them with ways to decide best for themselves too. Here a user can compare hospitals, get to view doctor videos, compare pricing for their surgery and choose an appointment at the hospital of their choice. We get them estimate from the hospital and even hint hospitals that the patient are not in a position to pay money that far exceeds the estimate’
‘We get our customers from different sources. They find us through online route; hospitals refer them to LetsMD; chemists and general practitioners (GP) send the needy patients to us. We get 5 categories of patients seeking finance- cash patients, patients with inadequate insurance, insured patients sans cashless facility and finally patients in whose case bill far exceeds the estimate. Banks are not handy to them as they would take 30-45 days for processing loan. We do it instantly, within 24 hours which is big advantage,’ Nivesh added.
He said, ‘My start up ensures price transparency and timely financing for a large section of uninsured population. My platform comes handy to patients and their families who want the best of deal. Our platform empowers them to meaningfully compare the quality and pricing of procedures across hospitals, and be able to pay for them before it is too late. I guess over 30 percent of the urban and 70 percent of the rural population takes a loan for medical expenses.’