Turning Leaf ‘pioneers’ financing program

Friday, October 17, 2014

LEBANON, Ore. – The folks at A Turning Leaf Home Medical (ATL) don’t think a lack of cash in hand should prevent patients from getting needed equipment.

“What if people had the ability to just finance it?” said Kevin Crawford, who recently joined ATL as its operations and marketing manager. 

As it happens, a local credit union was developing a financing program this summer for home medical equipment purchases and offered ATL the chance to get onboard as “an early pioneer.”

Under the program, patients can apply for loans ranging from $500 to $25,000 at an 8% interest rate.

“You can’t even put down a credit card for 8%,” said Crawford.

The way the program works: ATL determines whether or not the customer is interested in the program—there’s a $5 fee to join the credit union—and helps him or her put together an equipment package. A CPAP package, for example, could include the device, a humidifier, accessories and battery packs. If a patient has private insurance, that’s factored in—some patients may only need a loan until they get reimbursed by their insurer. ATL helps complete the loan application and faxes it to the credit union for same-day approval. Once the loan is approved, the credit union cuts a check to ATL.

“It’s a way to say to the customer, ‘Let’s figure out what’s best for you,’ and we are able to put that deal together so they have the equipment they are looking for,” Crawford said. “I know it sounds car dealer-y, to say, ‘$5 today puts you in a scooter for $72 a month for 24 months,’ but why is that a bad thing?”

In fact, Crawford came to the HME industry from a car dealership. 

One major benefit to the loan program: The credit union renders its decision based on the applicant’s individual merit, not his or her credit scores, he says.

“A lot of our clients are not going to have good scores because of health issues,” Crawford said.

The new financing program comes at a busy time for ATL. In addition to opening a fourth location, it recently had several thousand patients “fall into its lap” when a local CPAP provider closed, says President/Owner Anne Turner. Previously locally owned, it was acquired by a national provider.

“Their business model of mailing things out and using call centers doesn’t work here in Oregon,” she said. “The communities are still used to one-on-one provider service.” 

Turner has hired several new employees to keep up with the influx.

“We have had the perfect storm, but what a storm it is,” she said.