business

Medical credit card agreement requires interest rate transparency

The settlement affects about 7,800 health care professionals who are authorized to sign up patients to use the card.

By Sue Ter Maat — Posted July 16, 2013

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The New York State attorney general’s office in June settled a medical credit card lawsuit with GE Capital Retail Bank and CareCredit, a subsidiary of GE.

The agreement stipulates that no transaction over $1,000 can be charged by patients on the credit card within three days of applying for the card. That step was added to give patients time to reflect on whether they can pay off balances, especially after the introductory period is over, according to the attorney general’s office.

The settlement says patients must be told in detail about interest rates in a clear language disclosure form attached on top of the application packet.

The CareCredit card initially has a low introductory rate. If not paid in full after the promotional period, the interest rate increases to 26%.

CareCredit has authorized about 7,800 health care professionals, including physicians, to accept the card. About 535,000 New Yorkers have been issued one.

How to field requests

As more patients are expected to pay a larger share of their medical care, these credit cards are becoming more prevalent, said Lisa Asbell, RN, president of TrainRX, a medical practice consulting firm in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Although the recent ruling may make some physicians concerned about medical credit cards, they should not shy away from discussing them with patients, especially when patients ask about these cards, Asbell said.

Physicians also can direct patients to their office staff, who should be knowledgeable about how the cards work, she said. Doctors can designate one person who understands the terms of the cards and can discuss options with patients, she added. “Let the office manager talk about the money part,” Asbell said.

Medical debt continues to be a problem for many patients. A report by NerdWallet Health, a division of a price-comparison website NerdWallet, concluded that even the Affordable Care Act is not expected to be a cure-all for patients who have had past problems paying their health care bills. It found that approximately 10 million adults with health insurance coverage are expected to have medical bills that they can’t pay off in 2013.

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story