Archive April 2018 XIX, No. 4

A Credit Card Without Interest for Medical Expenses

Your patients benefit when you help them finance their rising out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Your facility does, too.

Joan Minnis

Joan Minnis


Never Miss
NEVER MISS With interest-free healthcare credit, patients pay a steep penalty if they miss a payment.

My heart sank when the office manager at the oral surgeon's office asked how I'd be paying my $2,000 deductible: cash, credit or check. "With a loan from my parents," I thought. My son needed his wisdom teeth removed, but I didn't have that kind of money set aside to cover my large deductible. When I told her I'd have to cancel and reschedule, the manager mentioned a borrowing option that didn't involve hitting up Mom and Dad: a deferred-interest (read: zero interest) healthcare credit card.

I'd never heard of such a thing, but the manager assured me that enrolling would be quick and easy as she handed me the phone. She wasn't kidding. I applied and got approved in a few minutes. I used my new card number to pay the $2,000 and back to the suite my son went.

Patient with Wallet

It seemed almost too good to be true, but it got even better when my first statement arrived about a month later. My 24-month deferred-interest loan really was essentially interest-free. Of course, free financing came with a not-so-small catch. The loan was interest-free only if I didn't miss an $84 monthly payment and paid it off in 24 months (the longest payback period this lender offered). Otherwise, the lender would have charged me all the interest that had accrued from the time of the transaction. That would have been an insanely high interest rate of about 26%. Fortunately, I didn't miss a month, so I wasn't slammed with a balloon payment at the end of the loan term.

Not only did a healthcare credit card turn my $2,000 deductible into 24 low monthly payments, but the oral surgeon's office made out, too. The lender deposited $1,802 into the practice's bank account within 2 days and kept $128 as a transaction fee (9.9% for a 24-month term). Plus, in me they had a happy patient to whom they didn't have to send a single billing statement nor make a single collections call.

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