GE’s CareCredit: Health Care Lending Spurs Investigation

New York Attorney General Andrew CuomoNew York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating possible “predatory health care lending” that pushes vulnerable patients deeper into debt after using GE Money’s CareCredit, a credit card promoted by medical treatment providers.
Cuomo said his office has found that some health care providers pressure consumers into using CareCredit, “through fast-talking sales pitches and deceit.”
The investigation has also found that CareCredit often pays kickbacks in the form of rebates to health care providers, based on how much business they charge consumers on CareCredit cards, Cuomo said.
CareCredit is accepted by more than 125,000 health care practices nationwide. The credit card is advertised as a way to pay for services often not covered by insurance, including: chiropractic procedures; cosmetic procedures; dental procedures; infertility treatment, hearing procedures; vision procedures; weight loss procedures; and veterinary services. Many of these are covered by local clinics, including Southwest Care, but the insurance denies access on many levels.
“Health care debt is the number one cause of individual bankruptcy, and this scheme is contributing to the economic burden being felt by consumers,” Cuomo said a statement. “People are being tricked by misleading offers that have them paying for services they never received as well as interest charges they never knew about – and they are ignored and given the runaround when they try to get their money back.”
The investigation was launched after hundreds of consumer complaints were received by the Attorney General’s Office.
Consumers reported that health care providers “promised” that the credit card had “no interest” -when it often carried retroactive interest of more than 25 percent if not paid in full during a promotional period.
Consumers were also unknowingly charged up front for services they never received, and their attempts to obtain refunds were often thwarted or ignored, Cuomo said.
“Meanwhile, CareCredit pays the health care providers in-full within 48 hours of the charge,” the AG reported.
Cuomo issued subpoenas to 10 providers that promote CareCredit, as well as to the companies that manage CareCredit, Chase Health Advance, Visa Health Benefits, and Citibank Health Card.
The subpoenas seek marketing materials, applications, terms of credit, contracts and rebate agreements, policies and procedures, consumer complaints, and regulatory inquiries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *