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Be Careful about Running up Debts on Medical Credit Cards

. Some medical credit cards do not provide consumers with adequate savings and benefits – especially when it may take them a long time to fully pay off the debt.

                Anyone who has ever taken a loved one to an oncologist to obtain chemotherapy or other cancer treatments knows that a rather “cold” moment often arises after the doctor has given the patient a pep talk – right when the patient is told to speak with the medical billing specialist.

Money still “talks” in medicine – and it can prevent many people from getting the quality of care they need – regardless of the type of private or government medical insurance plan they have.              Always remember that if you can pay cash for everything that your insurance plan refuses to cover – you can often cut a discounted deal with your doctor’s office. Otherwise, you may wind up rather shocked by all of the interest fees that will be added to any medical credit card statements.

The CFPB Is Growing More Vigilant about Medical Credit Card Abuses

            According to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, his agency was forced to take decisive, penalizing action against GE Capital Retail Bank and its “CareCredit medical card” after receiving hundreds of complaints. The CFPB discovered that many patients “thought they were signing up for an interest-free payment plan.  But, in fact, they were applying for a deferred-interest credit card that had a no-interest promotional period of up to two years. Interest accrued during the promotion at an annual rate of 26.99 percent . . .” That's a misleading offer that could generate huge debt.                                                                               If you were a consumer using this “CareCredit” card who could not afford to pay off the balance by the end of the promotional time period stated, you wound up paying a very hefty sum of money.

The Penalty/Punishment Enacted Against GE Capital Retail Bank

            In early December 2013, the CFPB announced that “it was ordering GE Capital Retail Bank and its CareCredit medical credit card unit to refund up to $34.1 million to pay [back] customers who [the CFPB] said were victims of deceptive credit card enrollment tactics over the last several years.” This means that more than 1 million people who incurred wrongful interest charges when using their “CareCredit” card may be eligible for reimbursement checks.

How Many Doctors and Patients Were Involved with the Medical “CareCredit” Card?

            Unfortunately about 175,000 doctors, dentists, vision care and veterinarian offices all around America offer this card to help their patients. It's estimated that there are about four million Americans still using this card. While all of these cardholders have not been treated inappropriately – far too many have wound up very displeased.

Conclusions

            Try to avoid paying out any medical bills over time using a medical credit card. Also, keep in mind that when you're in pain or need immediate medical care, you may not be in the best frame of mind to properly evaluate this type of card’s offerings. If at all possible, take the medical credit card application home with you for at least one evening to read all of the details again so you can be sure you're making a wise decision. If you must sign up because you have no other financial options, be sure to prioritize paying this debt off before many others to minimize the interest fees you’ll have to pay.

 If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia