It might be odd to think about doctors such as your OB-GYN or family physician offering you a credit card, but the truth is that it’s becoming a reality. Health care isn’t cheap—that much is true. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans spend $2.3 trillion on medical expenses annually. Doctors are looking for ways to get paid for their services immediately. This is, apparently, where the idea for a doctor-sponsored credit card came from.
At this point, the “doctor credit card” is meant to be used solely for elective health care costs. This includes all of those expenses that aren’t typically covered by health insurance such as cosmetic surgery, some dentistry, LASIK surgery, cosmetic treatments—even veterinary expenses may be included.
The card issuers that are currently talking of issuing doctor credit cards are GE Capital, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase. They maintain that their cards will help people get the health-related services they require—and to relieve doctors of having to turn into bill collectors in order to get paid.
The majority of the medical credit cards that are currently on the market offer 0% financing for six to twenty-four months, which differs greatly from your typical standard credit card. However, there is something of a catch. If you aren’t able to pay your balance off in full as discussed in your credit card agreement, then the interest rate can jump up to 20%, which is just going to add more and more debt to you.
Another disadvantage of the medical credit card is that a patient won’t really know the total cost of a procedure until that procedure is completed. And in some cases, even after the procedure is completed, expenses will continue to accrue. This means that, unlike a standard credit card, a medical credit card will most likely be very difficult for anyone to manage.
There you have it—the lowdown on doctors and the credit cards that they will begin offering to their patients. What do you think? Would you consider applying for a medical credit card, or do you think it’s simply another way to get you into debt?