A private hospital in Poland is about to become the first medical facility to give its patients the option to use Bitcoin to pay for a wider range of healthcare services, including major surgery. To make the process even easier, they are planning to launch a Bitcoin ATM at the facility as well.
Located in Warsaw, the Polish hospital is run by the Medicover Group and is its “flagship outlet”, treating over 8,000 international patients each year from over 20 different countries. It offers an extensive range of healthcare services, including women’s health, obstetrics, children’s health, cardiology, internal medicine, surgery, and intensive care.
According to Marcelina Szyszka, one of the staff members involved with the Bitcoin integration, the Bitcoin payment option will initially only be offered at that one facility. If, however, the service proves to be popular, implementing it at their other Medicover facilities is likely.
The Medicover Group prides itself on its commitment to providing a transparent pricing policy to its patients. Hospital Division directory Tucson Dunn elaborates on that commitment as he recounts:
“We led the development of the International Diagnosis Resource Grouping (DRG) price list which was adopted by the International Healthcare Commission. The iDRG price list is the most widely accepted international price list in the world, accepted by over 100 insurance companies worldwide.”
Dunn and Szyszka collaborated to convert every item on the International DRG price list to Bitcoin. The result was the first ever international Bitcoin healthcare price list.
When you get right down to it, Bitcoin and healthcare providers are a near perfect match. Most countries have laws in place that guarantee a patient’s right to privacy. Here in the United States we have HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). This law covers a lot of ground, but the aspect of HIPAA that is of the most importance to us as patients is its provisions for the protection of our private medical information. In it, HIPAA privacy regulations require healthcare providers and their associates to “ensure the confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared. This applies to all forms of PHI, including paper, oral, and electronic, etc.” In addition, “only the minimum health information necessary to conduct business is to be used or shared.”
It sounds great, but consider this – credit card companies can still legally access some of that protected information for the purposes of verifying transactions. That means that when you use a credit card to pay your bill, someone on the other end of that transaction has access to your information. Granted, it’s the “minimum” amount of information needed, but it is still your private medical information nonetheless.
Being able to use Bitcoin removes that factor from the billing process. When a patient can pay bills with Bitcoin, none of their protected healthcare information is transmitted. Bitcoin may not be anonymous, for the purposes of keeping your medical information private, it’s the next best thing.
What do you think about this hospital using Bitcoin? Comment below!
Photo courtesy of Medicover Poland; other images from Shutterstock.