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Consumer Reports: Patients 'Overdose' on Debt As Lenders, Doctors, and Hospitals Push Risky Credit to Pay for Medical Care
Date:6/9/2008

CR Investigative Report Details Medical Credit Crisis

YONKERS, N.Y., June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Some of the biggest names in the consumer credit business, including GE Money, Citigroup, and Chase, are pushing risky credit for financing medical procedures, according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports, which describes the new lending practices as akin to subprime mortgages. Plastic is playing an increasing role in covering medical costs: at about $45 billion today, it could more than triple to $150 billion in 2015.

"OVERDOSE OF DEBT"

CR's July report, "Overdose of Debt," explains how credit cards and finance lines that are "interest free" can easily reach exorbitant rates - up to 27.99 percent retroactively - and they're being pitched to consumers with high pressure sales pitches, often catching them off guard in their doctors' offices or at the hospital. The rise in doctors promoting cards and loans with unconscionable finance terms, says Consumer Reports, is cause for concern, blurring traditional lines of responsibility.

With consumers already sagging under record debt loads and soaring out-of-pocket medical costs, consumers likely will come under more pressure to pay for these expenses with credit cards or loans. What they may not understand, according to CR, is that many of these financing schemes carry dangerous pitfalls. CR's investigative report, available online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org, provides several tips for consumers.

BIG MARKET FOR CARD COMPANIES

Lenders tout their offers as a way for patients to cover medical needs or elective procedures and they push risky credit for everything from cancer care to root canals to botox treatment. Meanwhile, the cards and financing are promoted to doctors, dentists, and veterinarians as a way to make more money and get paid promptly. In addition, CR reports, hospitals are checking credit scor
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SOURCE Consumer Reports
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