One-third of physician practices do not accept credit card payments

Thirty-three percent of U.S. physician offices do not accept credit cards as a form of payment, according to a new survey. This represents a 5 percent increase since a similar survey was conducted last year.

The Physician Office Credit-Card Acceptance Survey, by SK&A Information Services, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of healthcare information solutions and research, suggests physician practices are limiting this form of payment because patients are eing adversely affected by high interest rates, maxed out credit limits and a more challenging ability to qualify for credit.

“Since the U.S. credit crisis exploded last year, creditors have become synonymous with excessive rate and fee increases, and we’re seeing the effects of that in the latest Physician Office Credit-Card Acceptance Survey,” said Dave Escalante, president and CEO of SK&A. “Fewer patients are able to use their credit cards at doctor offices because of the worsening consumer credit situation.”

Escalante said the survey, when segmented by physician-office specialty, indicates offices that specialize in elective or cosmetic procedures – which typically don’t bill insurance companies – are more likely to accept credit cards.

The offices that accept credit cards most often are those of plastic surgeons, with a 91 percent acceptance rate, while pathology offices accept them the least, with a 21 percent acceptance rate.

Other specialties with high acceptance rates are:

  • Ophthalmology (84 percent)
  • Bariatrics (83 percent)
  • Otolaryngology (83 percent)
  • Dermatology (81 percent)

Specialties with low acceptance rates include:


  • Dialysis (27 percent)
  • Geriatric medicine (32 percent)
  • Nuclear medicine (35 percent)
  • Critical-care medicine (37 percent)

Of those offices who accept credit cards, 66 percent take either MasterCard or Visa. The least accepted credit card is American Express, at 27.7 percent. 

“The recently passed Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act of 2009 will lead consumers from misleading contract language and unfair rate and fee increases, which should invigorate consumer credit spending,” said Escalante. “Our report can be used to compare current and past credit spending and physician credit-card acceptance rates. It will be interesting to see how the new law will affect next year’s physician credit-card acceptance rates.”

Results of the Physician Office Credit-Card Acceptance Survey are based on telephone surveys with 202,650 physician offices nationwide completed in April 2009.


Photo by Andreas Rueda obtained under Creative Commons license.