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Health insurance rates may be better deal than medical credit cards

Posted On Wed, August 19, 2009

Patients who currently have inadequate health insurance coverage shouldn't be led astray by aggressively-marketed medical credit cards, according to one state attorney general.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is warning consumers that the health care credit cards can have provisions in their fine print that result in punitive 29.99 percent interest rates and late payments as high as $30 for missing a payment deadline by even a few days. In her recent warning, she cited the case of one 91-year-old woman who ended up with a retroactive $1,200 interest charge when she mailed a payment somewhat late.

Swanson says that some health care facilities of all types can market these credit cards aggressively to patients, in part because some in the industry see them as marketing tools that can convince consumers to have procedures done that they otherwise wouldn't.

The attorney general also warns that in some cases, consumers can also find themselves agreeing to procedures that they don't actually need when faced with an aggressive pitch for these health care credit cards.

Overall, Swanson suggests that people can seek more favorable terms from bank loans or payment plans from their treatment provider instead of falling prey to high interest rates. Another option may be to shop around for a reasonably priced health insurance policy.
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