Medical Credit Cards Carry High Rates, Heavy Penalties

Medical Credit Cards Carry High Rates, Heavy PenaltiesIn medical offices across the country — including those of doctors, dentists, pain management specialists and centers that provide important assistance such as hearing aids — credit cards are being offered to patients not covered by their insurance plans.
But these credit cards and lines of credit that can be arranged quickly by health care professionals carry exorbitant interest rates after an initial period of zero interest expires — with heavy penalties for late payments.
These cards are issued by specialty finance companies as well as commercial banks.
They have become so widespread and problematic for users that the New York Times focused on the practice in a recent article. The paper’s editorial board followed with a scathing piece:
“Patients around the nation are being victimized by medical credit cards that can lead to financial calamity,” the Time’s editorial reads. “They are often pushed on patients with modest incomes by health care providers who want to make sure that they get paid, even if some of their patients end up with huge credit card bills they can’t afford.”
The Times urged “strong regulatory action” to curb the abuses.
The American Medical Association and the American Dental Association have not issued a policy regarding these cards. But the Times said that some health care practitioners refuse to provide them to their patients, saying they threaten the traditional relationship between doctor and patient.

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