A Consumer Reports study finds that medical professionals are pushing high-interest lines of credit and financing options on patients. Credit agencies are even partnering with hospitals to offer branded credit cards so patients can finance elective cosmetic surgeries like liposuction and hair removal.
- Interest rates can jump to as much as 27.99 percent retroactively. That’s the rate Chase HealthAdvance’s zero-interest plan charges, for example, if you miss a payment or don’t pay off the debt in the promotional period. By contrast, the average fixed-rate credit card charges 11.9 percent, according to Bankrate.com.
- Consumers report that they sometimes feel pressured by medical providers to finance needed medical care, in some cases while sedated or recovering from treatment.
- Doctors and dentists have financial incentives under these arrangements to encourage patients to sign up for more expensive treatments and to steer them to extended financing plans that take a smaller cut of the practitioner’s fee.
- When hospitals persuade patients to tap unused credit, those patients can lose the power to bargain for discounts or even obtain charity care