1. Money
LaToya Irby

Health Care Credit Cards - For Medical Bills Only

By October 31, 2007

Follow me on:

According to Star-Telegram, a few of the top health insurance providers have decided to offer health care credit cards to consumers. These credit cards, which can only be used for medical expenses, are intended to help consumers cope with rising health care costs.

Mila Koffman of Georgetown University offers a strong warning against these new health care credit cards:
"If you can't afford the deductible, then putting the deductible on a credit card -- adding in the fees and the interest -- is the worst thing that you can do. That's not going to help you be able to finance your medical care. It's just going to get you further into debt."
From a debt management point of view, it's never wise to use credit to pay for things you can't afford. Unfortunately, many consumers face the Catch-22 decision of maintaining their health or going into debt.

The article offers a few alternatives for paying your medical bills:
-Ask whether your healthcare provider offers financial assistance or a discount for charity patients.
-Ask whether your physician has a payment plan that would allow you to spread out payments over a long period.
If you're forced to finance your medical bills, don't go into it blindly. Choose a health care credit card just as you would any other type of credit card. Avoid charging the medical expense until you have a solid plan for paying it off.

More Reading:
Choosing a Credit Card | Making A Get Out Of Debt Plan
Comments
November 2, 2007 at 2:10 pm
(1) Credit Cards says:

I personally do not think a person should use a credit card unless they are able to pay off the balance in full every month. They are designed to take a “lifetime” to pay back at the minimum payment. Be careful.

January 25, 2008 at 10:19 am
(2) Carol says:

What are the names of some of the top health insurance providers that have decided to offer health care credit cards to consumers. I work for an ambulance billing office and would be very interested in partnering with them.

November 7, 2008 at 1:48 am
(3) In Pain says:

I see people saying it’s not a good idea. Everyone talking about health care. Does everyone nt know that an abcessed tooth can kill a person? I have to choose between paying my rent and having a tooth removed that could potentially be fatal. Acredit card would allow me to have that tooth removed, save my life, keep me in my home, and slowly pay it off. So, until you are in a position to truly comment on what it’s like to be in a position like this- don’t.

December 4, 2008 at 3:47 pm
(4) Deborah says:

Make sure you understand that if you miss a payment they will raise your interest to higher than other credit cards. They also place a credit line of the amout you owe and then charge interest before the first payment which causes an over limit balance that they charge you for. You don’t want to use this company unless you can pay it off in a month or two. They are as bad as the big credit card companies.

June 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm
(5) shelisha newton says:

i would like to apply for a medical credit, please direct me to the site to apply.

June 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm
(6) gina says:

It really isnt good to use a credit card but the whole point is that your health is very important not to mention the pain is horrible and if credit is your only option you kind of have no choice. Im sure people realize the risks but I really dont think that matters at a certain point.

August 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm
(7) DELLA says:

I Think they are great for those things you don’t have time or a way too save up foe I got care credit and now i have teeth my insurance paid too get my teeth pulled and Care credit paid for my teeth along with carington dental discount plan ,without this I would not have teeth today !

January 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm
(8) Arsen D. says:

It’s all fine and good to say that no one should ever use credit if they can’t afford whatever it is they’re paying for. Health is different, however. Many people can’t afford insurance, and even people that can find that many things are not covered by their insurance. This is better than nothing, if you haven’t got the thousands of dollars required for some procedures, or if you or your pet become sick and need immediate care that you haven’t got time to save up for. The payments suck, as does the ruin that could be brought to your credit score if you are late, but then death and poor health are not great options either. I’d rather be in poor financial health than in poor physical health.

January 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm
(9) Rivka says:

Neither charge nor give up treatment, to which you are always entitled. Have the care, pay via check in installments that you can afford, as we have all done throughout our lifetimes. The more who insist on this courtesy and respect, the more the industry will need to coalesce to what is morally acceptable.

March 3, 2011 at 11:55 am
(10) Laura B says:

I can see the stupidity of obtaining a health care credit card for more elective procedures. But personally I think its better to do what is needed to ensure your physical health whether or not it makes financial sense.. We are in a situation where a specialist we can’t afford is the best option for the care of my unborn baby and myself. So I should just bag the care that would help save my baby’s life because I can’t afford it?? I don’t think so! I would rather be paying for the expenses the rest of my life than risk the health of my unborn baby. Giving her the best care possible is a worthy cause to go into debt for.. Suggesting people put their health care aside if they can’t afford it is the most retarded and absurd suggestion I have ever heard!

September 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm
(11) Elena says:

I agree with some of these people. If you don’t have money upfront this is a good option. Even if I try to pay in payments my dentist 450.00 to start my procedure. To some of you this is chicken feed, for me I can’t afford it. This is a “no choice” option for me.

September 22, 2011 at 11:48 am
(12) Skhan says:

If no credit cards then what is the alternative these people issuing warnings.. suggest?
Not all hospitals and clinics offer payment arrangements!!!
If I have outstanding bills for $1300 and another one for $600 and few more that I can’t afford to pay right away…these blood sucking doctors will report that to credit bureau and in result I will be rejected for basic things like home/car loans, I wont even get an apartment to live, because they check your credit history as well…!!

March 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm
(13) Brooke says:

If you are recieveing high Dr bills. pay what you can!! As long as you are paying something, they can NOT report you to the credit agencies! Even if it’s $25…it’s still a payment!

August 13, 2012 at 12:25 am
(14) Marcie says:

@Brooke #13 – your statement “as long as you are paying something, they can NOT report you to the credit agencies” is a popularly held belief, but unfortunately, it is entirely FALSE, not to mention ignorant. Any time you receive medical care you are liable for payment of the entire amount IN FULL at time of service. Allowing patients to make payment arrangements is a COURTESY some medical providers may offer at their discretion, but they are under absolutely NO obligation to do so. Anything less than full payment is a default, and they can indeed report you to credit bureaus and even send you to collections if you fail to tender full payment when due. You do not have the right to decide when and how much you will pay a lawful debt that you incurred, period. This is the reason our country is such a mess – people believe every stupid thing they hear without bothering to exert the slightest effort to investigate the accuracy of the statement or even wonder about the credibility of the source of that information; then they spread that misinformation around as if they themselves are experts. Ignorant myths have caused no end of misery and unnecessary expense for everyone. Please refrain from handing out legal and financial advice when you so obviously have no clue what you are talking about. And everyone else, please check a CREDIBLE source for such information rather than believing everything you hear, or at least, do a little research before acting. Sheesh.

November 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm
(15) Stephanie says:

Some medical places are going to, paying up front. In my case is surgery and I do not have $1,300 to pull out of my pocket to have this surgery. So my only choice is a health credit card, or go to bank and borrow the money. Neither in my eyes are good…..but what else do you do?

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.