iA Financial puts faith in fintech lender

Lender provides credit where insurance doesn't cover full treatment

It was a milestone for Health Smart Financial Services this week as it announced that iA Financial Group would be investing in the fintech firm.

The equity financing completed on Tuesday ensures that the lender can continue its expansion across Canada, building on the 1,500 provider locations it currently serves. Health Smart provides credit to customers who are facing expensive medical bills, allowing them to pay loans back on a monthly basis, which can range from period of three to 60 months.  

According to the lender’s president and CEO, Wayne Pommen, it’s a service that is proving increasingly popular in present-day Canada.

“More and more people don’t have benefits coverage compared to the past,” he says.  “There is a lot more contract and freelance work now and they don’t have benefits. Some benefits plans have become less generous, and there are also more services becoming available that are not covered by benefits plans at all.”

For those that do receive benefits from their employer, often the coverage doesn’t cover 100% of treatment. This is another area where Health Smart can assist, using technology that ensures a decision on financing is delivered almost instantaneously.

“We conduct a credit check and within one second of a customer submitting an application we can give approval on how much we are willing to lend. You can do that on a computer at the clinic with a customer service rep or through our app on a tablet or a smartphone.”

For those that prefer to be fully prepared, you can also make an application before you even reach the clinic. “We now allow customers to apply directly online, which means they don’t have to be on location at a clinic to be approved,” says Pommen. 

Health Smart launched in 2009 and at the outset the main providers it dealt with were dentists, veterinarians and providers of cosmetic procedures. That base has grown significantly in the interim period, with fertility treatments, hearing aids and mobility devices now being financed by the firm. Pommen, after previous stints with TorQuest Partners and Bain & Company, came on board to lead the firm late last year and has high hopes for the business continuing its rapid expansion.

“Right now we are adding 50 to 100 merchants per month across Canada,” he says.  “We have had discussions with benefits providers, unions, and what they don’t cover, Health Smart offers a way to make healthcare affordable. So we see ourselves as part of the continuum of how customers pay for healthcare procedures.”

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