Medical Credit Cards Less Convenient Than They Seem

Medical Credit Cards Less Convenient Than They Seem

March 19, 2013         Written By Lynn Oldshue

Medical credit cards give patients a chance to charge their medical bills on a credit card so they can pay them off at a later time. These cards offer high limits and flexible payment options that specifically suit healthcare charges. No matter how convenient these cards may seem, they bring about a slew of problems you must note before using them.

Common issues with medical credit cards include:

  • High interest rates: Some of these cards have an APR as high as  29%.
  • Forced pre-payment: Doctors can use medical credit cards as a means of getting paid upfront for their services.
  • Full prices: Patients can often save 20% to 40% by paying out of pocket rather than charging.
  • Increased debt: Debt from hospital charges may be high no matter what, let alone when interest rates start piling up.
  • Forgotten payments: If credit card bills go unpaid for too long, the late fees associated with them can lead to big financial problems.

Many patients complain that their health care providers are pushing them towards medical credit cards, which limits their abilities to negotiate prices for treatment. When a patient pays in cash, he or she can offer barter for a lower price because doctors are willing to work for guaranteed pay. In the case of an insurance payment, the negotiating happens with that issuing company, not the patient. Credit cards don’t allow for that kind of haggling.

Before you sign up for a medical credit card, consider your alternatives. Many hospitals will allow you to work out payment plans with them directly, if you can provide a certain amount as a deposit. If you cannot afford your bills due to an emergency, you may be able to get special aid from a third-party provider. Talk to the billing department at your hospital for more options. When all else fails, read over the terms of each medical credit card carefully to ensure you select the right one for you.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 19, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue
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