Author: Amy Bair
MTA has partnered with Western Union Business Solutions, a business unit of The Western Union Company, to showcase Western Union’s incoming payment solutions for medical facilities to its members. We sat down with Chris Setcos, Head of Partnerships and Business Development, North America, to discuss their solutions.
Chris, let’s assume our readers are not familiar with Western Union Business Solutions (WUBS) and we want them to understand the power of WUBS and how it can help grow their business internationally.
MTA: What are the benefits of using Western Union Business Solutions for international transactions?
CS: Western Union Business Solutions allows medical facilities to provide patients with access to a simple, reliable solution for making international payments to medical providers. For medical facilities, this can also provide cost savings, streamlining of processes, transparency, and the ability to easily provide funds to international patients. Western Union (WU) enables patients to pay in local currency, while turning around and paying the medical facility wholly in U.S. dollars.
MTA: And why, in your opinion, is using Western Union the best option?
CS: Western Union’s rich history of innovation span’s nearly 170 years with a global financial network spanning more than 200 countries and territories. Western Union is a global leader in foreign exchange and one of the world’s most trusted brands for consumers and business in the financial services industry. Last year, we spent approximately $200 million on compliance and have a comprehensive compliance program that we have developed over time.
MTA: I am a U.S.-based surgeon or medical facility. Walk me through the process of receiving payment from a patient.
CS: Western Union Business Solutions creates a customized web portal for the medical facility. The facility would then provide the link to the patient and the patient would fill out their details including what country they are coming from, what currency they would like to pay in, and how much they would like to pay. The patient would then complete that transaction by selecting from available payment methods, tailored for each country and currency, and the money would then transfer to Western Union Business Solutions where we will turn around and pay out in USD to the U.S.-based medical facility. Throughout this entire process, there are reports and notifications that are sent to provide transparency as to where the patient is in the payment process.
MTA: How long does it take for the funds to change hands? i.e. from patient to surgeon
CS: As soon as the payment reaches the Western Union Business Solutions local accounts, we pay out by the next business day. Also, because the patient is in most cases sending local currency, this means that it’s generally hitting the local Western Union Business Solutions account faster, which further speeds up the payment to the medical facility.
MTA: Do any of the steps above change if my patient has a third party covering some or all of the fees? i.e. insurance company?
CS: The process is the same as above. In fact, we find that in a lot of cases, several family members or third parties may pay, and they all can easily pay by this method.
MTA: Can a patient pay my organization with a credit card?
CS: Yes. This is a popular payment method as we allow for the patient or third party to choose which currency they would like to transact in. Credit cards continue to be a convenient payment method. Also, I’d like to add that there are several digital wallet methods that patients can also use throughout the world. WU makes these available as they become more popular and useful in particular regions.
MTA: What about partial payments?
CS: Patients will typically gather financial resources from multiple family members and use Western Union Business Solutions to pay the balance.
MTA: Do you provide medical financing to patients?
CS: Patients can work with their insurance provider to pay part of their medical treatment costs and pay the balance through Western Union Business Solutions. Our role is to help simplify international payments for medical facilities. We do not provide financing to patients.
MTA: How do refunds work?
CS: A medical facility administrator can choose to refund the entire amount or a partial amount simply by searching for the processed or received transaction and hitting a button to refund. This helps simplify the normal refund process that a medical facility must undergo. Medical institutions no longer have to contact the bank to research a transaction from months ago, only to find out that the bank is unable to send the funds back electronically and/or the bank is sending a U.S. Dollar check overseas that the patient can do nothing with. By using Western Union, the patient can receive a local currency refund quickly and easily.
MTA: Please tell us about Western Union Business Solutions’ compliance efforts.
CS: Western Union is governed by strict and rigorous state and federal laws regarding financial services, consumer protection, and privacy, and is subject to oversight from regulatory and enforcement authorities such as individual state money transmission regulators, the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In addition, while Western Union Business Solutions does not process credit card information directly, Western Union Business Solutions is able to work with approved credit card processors who maintain PCI compliance.
MTA: Can the hotels and other supporting services a hospital partners with also use Western Union Business Solutions to receive funds?
CS: Yes. Many medical institutions are offering concierge services as part of their international patient programs. This includes rolling in accommodations and other related costs.
MTA: Tell me about the countries and currencies your services cover.
CS: This number is always evolving and growing as Western Union works with local governments and partners to extend its global reach. The Western Union Business Solutions’ payments platform currently provides businesses with a streamlined method for processing payments in 200 countries and territories. Payments can be administered in approximately 130 foreign currencies, including many exotic currencies that large banks may not trade in due to limited liquidity. Additionally, we provide enhanced electronic and digital payment methods, depending on the country of origin.
MTA: I am a medical facility and I signed up for Western Union Business Solutions, do you help me promote that relationship to the international market in any way?
CS: Since Western Union has such a large, trusted presence globally, expanding payment offerings to include Western Union helps to give comfort about the entire payment process. In addition, Western Union partners with the medical institution and facilitators to create tailored marketing pieces, even in multiple languages, to help the patient understand how to pay their medical expenses and possibly save money in the process.
Chris, thanks for sitting down with us and answering our questions!
If you are interested in learning more about how Western Union Business Solutions can help grow your international business faster, check them out at http://business.westernunion.com/Healthcare.
To learn more about Medical Tourism Association, go to http://medicaltourismassociation.com.