Your BBB occasionally receives calls from concerned consumers who are asked to apply for a medical credit card before receiving medical or dental services.
Some state Attorneys General are warning about the pitfalls of using medical credit cards to pay for treatments not covered by insurance plans. Credit cards have been pushed by doctors and insurers as a way for patients to finance large, out-of-pocket expenses for health care. But the cards have led to patients getting procedures they don’t need, and can lead to insurers getting upfront payments for services not yet rendered. The explosion of medical credit card debt is a major concern for many Americans, particularly vulnerable seniors and low-to middle-income households. For patients, the financial consequences can be dire.
Your BBB offers the following tips when using medical credit cards:
-Give yourself time to understand the terms of financing. Take the time to read the entire contract; don’t rely on a sales pitch.
-Resist any pressure to apply immediately, even if your provider offers financing.
-If your provider tries to charge you in advance of treatment, ask to be charged for each separate visit. If your request is refused, consider finding another provider.
-If the services will span more than one visit, ask for a detailed treatment plan.
-If applying for deferred interest (“no-interest”) financing, understand how the deferred interest will accrue and when it will be imposed. Understand the monthly payments you must make in order to avoid interest.
-Ask your provider for alternative payment options, such as an in-house payment plan. Your provider may also be willing to negotiate the fee. Once you sign up for a credit card or other financing, you may have more difficulty addressing billing matters with your provider.
-Make sure your insurance coverage, if any, is exhausted before using a credit card or other financing. Don’t allow your provider to charge your credit card for any service that should be covered by insurance.
To make a complaint regarding health care credit card practices, contact your state’s Attorney General.
For more information you can trust, visit evansville.bbb.org.