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ST. LOUIS - A health system with hospitals in Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wisconsin is working with a bank to offer interest-free loans to patients with unpaid medical bills.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that $6.5 million has been lent to about 4,000 patients since SSM Health Care inked a deal with Commerce Bank five months ago. Patients get the loans without undergoing credit checks and Commerce Bank receives a service fee.

The goal is to reduce the health system's bad debt, which grew from $157 million in 2012 to $204.7 million in 2013.

Hospitals have long worked out payment plans with patients in-house. But Paul Sahney of SSM Health Care says his hospitals aren't positioned to effectively manage monthly payments from patients like banks already do with home and car loans.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Bank loans used to collect unpaid medical bills

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