Aldeen’s Sunday Morning Bathroom Read (post turkey stupor/WTF edition)

Doug Aldeen• ERISA Healthcare Attorney and General Counsel

“WTF” can best be summarized as follows:

A) William “The Fridge” Perry lining up as a fullback (all 338 lbs) for the 1985 Chicago Bears;

B) A number of not for profit hospitals charging 13% interest on a “credit card” for outstanding medical bills for individuals that are already functionally uninsured and now deeper in debt;

C) Marilyn Monroe/JFK/Lee Harvey Oswald/ all killed within 13 months of each other;

D) A NYC investment bank charging recently released felons $30 transaction fee’s on a $500 debit card (true story);

E) All of the above.

How banks and hospitals are cashing in when patients can’t pay for health care

November 17, 20225:00 AM ET


Many hospitals are now partnering with financing companies to offer payment plans when patients and their families can’t afford their bills. The catch: the plans can come with interest that significantly increases a patient’s debt.

Patients at North Carolina-based Atrium Health get what looks like an enticing pitch when they go to the nonprofit hospital system’s website: a payment plan from lender AccessOne. The plans offer “easy ways to make monthly payments” on medical bills, the website says. You don’t need good credit to get a loan. Everyone is approved. Nothing is reported to credit agencies.

In Minnesota, Allina Health encourages its patients to sign up for an account with MedCredit Financial Services to “consolidate your health expenses.” In Southern California, Chino Valley Medical Center, part of the Prime Healthcare chain, touts “promotional financing options with the CareCredit credit card to help you get the care you need, when you need it.”

As Americans are overwhelmed with medical bills, patient financing is now a multibillion-dollar business, with private equity and big banks lined up to cash in when patients and their families can’t pay for care. By one estimate from research firm IBISWorld, profit margins top 29% in the patient financing industry, seven times what is considered a solid hospital margin.

Hospitals and other providers, which historically put their patients in interest-free payment plans, have welcomed the financing, signing contracts with lenders and enrolling patients in financing plans with rosy promises about convenient bills and easy payments.

For patients, the payment plans often mean something more ominous: yet more debt.

Millions of people are paying interest on these plans, on top of what they owe for medical or dental care, an investigation by KHN and NPR shows. Even with lower rates than a traditional credit card, the interest can add hundreds, even thousands of dollars to medical bills and ratchet up financial strains when patients are most vulnerable.

Robin Milcowitz, a Florida woman who found herself enrolled in an AccessOne loan at a Tampa hospital in 2018 after having a hysterectomy for ovarian cancer, said she was appalled by the financing arrangements.

“Hospitals have found yet another way to monetize our illnesses and our need for medical help,” said Milcowitz, a graphic designer. She was charged 11.5% interest — almost three times what she paid for a separate bank loan. “It’s immoral,” she said.

Read  The Rest Of The Story – Medical debt soars for consumers with hospital credit cards : Shots – Health News : NPR