With the economy the way it is, and has been for several years now, many people in New Jersey are avoiding going the doctor or dentist. People simply don’t have the disposable income to pay for routine procedures, let alone an emergency. People often joke about having to file for bankruptcy after having been to the doctor, but with the rising cost of medical and dental care, that may not be much of a joke anymore.
Some medical and dental professionals believe they have found a solution for cash strapped patients — loans or credit cards that can be obtained right there in the doctor’s office. This may seem like a good solution in the short term when the care is needed, but in the long term, it can be a financial disaster. The interest rates that are charged can be exorbitant and will keep a patient in debt for a very long time.
For instance, a woman needed $5,700 in dental work done, and she took out credit from the dentist’s office to have the work done. Unfortunately, the interest rate on the card is 23 percent annually, and if she is late with the payment, the penalty is a stiff 33 percent. Nearly one-third of her Social Security check now goes to paying for the dental work, and she is doubtful it will be paid off by the time she passes away.
Medical credit cards and loans used to be offered for elective procedures such as plastic surgery. Now, they are being offered to patients in New Jersey and nationwide who are in need of medically, or dentally, necessary treatment. There are already a good number of people that seek bankruptcy protection due to unmanageable levels of medical debt. This type of funding for medical care could end up increasing the current numbers as consumers continue to seek a responsible way in which to confront financial obligations that have exceeded their financial means.
Source: CNBC, Patients mired in costly credit from doctors, Jessical Silver-Greenberg, Oct. 14, 2013