Are doctors pushing credit cards in Atlanta medical offices?
Many Atlanta residents struggle with large out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses for care that is not covered by insurance. In some cases, it is simply impossible for patients to pay their medical bills, and as a result some doctors and dentists have begun offering financing in their offices.
Medical credit cards and lines of credit were first introduced to the market for cosmetic surgery and elective procedures, but in recent years doctors and dentists have taken to signing up patients for credit in order to ensure that patients will not forgo care and that providers will be paid. The growth of this form of credit has proved problematic for consumers.
The availability of high-interest medical credit cards – which are often presented to consumers in doctors’ offices at a time of vulnerability – has left many retirement-age consumers with overwhelming amounts of debt.
Medical lines of credit often start with an interest-free period, making them attractive to people who are living on a fixed-income and cannot handle a sudden medical cost. However, once the interest-free period ends, interest rates kick in at as high as 30 percent.
Such terms, of course, can lead to financial ruin. Regulators in some states are now reviewing whether consumer protections need to be implemented in this industry.
For now, those who struggle with medical debt or traditional credit card debt may benefit from talking with a debt relief attorney. Credit card debt is unsecured debt, and this means it is sometimes possible to permanently discharge it. In other cases, it may be possible to reorganize credit card debt into an affordable payment plan that will eliminate high interest rates.
Source: Wall Street Journal Market Watch, “Medical debt snares more retirees,” Matthew Heimer, Oct. 14, 2013