June 27, 2017

How to Answer Your Clients’ Questions About Health Care Credit Cards

As a health and wellness practitioner, your patients put their trust in you. If your office makes medical credit cards available, you owe it to your clients to be able to explain both the benefits and the potential risks associated with these cards as a payment option.

Health care cards issued by companies like CareCredit, Wells Fargo, and Citi Health give your patients a valuable payment alternative for vital services they want or need, but which:

  • aren’t covered by Medicare or other forms of health care insurance, and which
  • they can’t afford to pay for all at once

Health care credit cards also help to take the pressure off care providers, by making it unnecessary to manage and chase down patient accounts – delinquent or otherwise. The card issuer assumes any risk associated with non-payment, while your practice gets reimbursed for client charges upfront.

Giving your patients access to treatment without delay – and in a manner which makes paying the associated bill manageable – can be a win-win solution for both you and your patients. Ensuring you’re familiar with the answers to common client questions about health care credit cards will help keep the scenario a positive one.

The Pros and Cons of Medical Credit Cards

There are obvious plusses for the patient who takes advantage of a medical credit card. Some of these include:

  • not having to put off treatment because of high deductibles or lump sump payments,
  • freeing up cash for other life expenses by making smaller, interest-free payments over time, and
  • the ability to more easily record, track, and manage a health care budget

On the downside, however, medical credit cards are a form of financing which can have serious repercussions if payments are late, or are made outside of the initial low or no-interest period. Potential credit card minuses for the client include:

  • minimum payment amounts that don’t always eliminate the full debt before the promo period expires
  • deferred interest that means any unpaid balance remaining at the end of the interest-free period is subject to the full interest amount, retroactive to the service purchase date
  • regular interest rates that are as high, or higher, than regular credit cards
  • the possibility of a negative impact on personal credit score and ratings
  • the possibility of late payments triggering higher interest rates on other lines of credit
  • difficulty getting charges reversed if a multi-treatment plan is not followed through to the end

Many medical credit card holders don’t fully understand the financing terms they’re agreeing to when they use a card to pay for health care services. And there have been cases of patients filing lawsuits against health care providers who they felt misled them, or who didn’t make their payment obligations clear. If your practice chooses to represent and benefit from this type of payment option, your personnel should not only understand how it works, but should be capable of passing that knowledge along to your clients.

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