LOCAL NEWS

What you need to know about medical credit cards

Feb 8, 2024, 10:26 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 11:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utahns struggle to afford the rising costs of health care, even those with health insurance. A nationwide survey from KFF Health News found 100 million Americans have medical debt. One in four say they have put off medical care because of costs. Now, to help manage those costs, many people are turning to medical credit cards. But credit experts warn they can leave some people worse off.

Medical credit cards are being touted as a convenient tool to pay for stuff not covered by insurance. But they come with serious gotchas. A big one is deferred interest if you can’t pay off the full balance at the end of a promotional period. Even if you paid off 99%, you are still going to get hit with the full interest rate, applied retroactively to the original purchase amount.

“It’s a really big deal,” said LendingTree’s chief credit analyst, Matt Schulz. “It can be a really unpleasant surprise, especially considering how expensive medical procedures can be. You can be talking about an awful lot of money.”

And those interest rates run high with a whopping average of 27%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Compare that to the 16% rate of a typical credit card.

The CFPB also finds some healthcare providers pushing medical credit cardholders to get more expensive or extra procedures they might not need.

“There’s certainly the possibility of upsell happening when you use these medical credit cards, because the provider may know that they’re going to end up getting paid,” said Schulz.

And health care debt usually does not hit your credit unless it goes to collections. That protection is swiped away when you use a medical credit card.

“When you put that medical procedure on a medical credit card or any other type of credit card, it’s no longer seen as medical debt for credit report purposes,” Schulz explained. “Given how much medical debt has been purged from credit reports over the last few years, it’s important to understand that nuance.”

Better options than a medical credit card include getting a personal loan from your bank and negotiating with your medical provider. Many healthcare providers will work with you on zero- or low-interest payment plans.

Schulz adds patients can really benefit by requesting an itemized medical bill with Current Procedural Terminology codes that describe exactly what the procedure is that you’re being billed for.

“That can help you not only negotiate those costs but make sure that you are actually getting charged for what you actually had done,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The Larry H. Miller Company and Miller family unveiled renderings for the Power District, a nearly ...

Lindsay Aerts

MLB stadium financing plan gets House committee OK amid hotel industry concerns 

The plan to help finance a major league baseball stadium, and the area surrounding it on Salt Lake's west side, is moving forward at the Utah legislature.  

50 seconds ago

A student competes in the Weber State Auto Tech Championship on Friday....

Mike Anderson

High School Gearheads Compete in Auto Technician Championship

High School seniors from all over Utah and one school from Oregon, showed off their skills in a automotive technician competition Friday.

2 minutes ago

FILE - A Lockheed Martin F-16 Jet fighter performs its demonstration flight, June 22, 2011, at the ...

Michael Houck

NORAD fighters intercept high-altitude balloon over Utah airspace

The North American Aerospace Defense Command confirmed that its fighters "intercepted" a mysterious balloon above Utah Friday afternoon.

25 minutes ago

A home under construction at a development in Eagleville, Pa., is shown on Friday, April 28, 2023. ...

Daniel Woodruff

Utahns face higher mortgage rates ahead of spring buying season

After a welcome dip in mortgage rates, they’re going back up.

36 minutes ago

Gov. Cox in D.C....

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Governors don’t have ‘luxury of partisan posturing,’ Cox says during White House briefing

As state leaders, governors don't have the "luxury of partisan posturing" and must instead work to balance budgets and fix infrastructure, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Friday.

1 hour ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Eliza Pace

Kevin Bacon to come to Utah for Lehi Round-Up concert

Lehi City announced a familiar face would be returning to Lehi for the Round-Up concert this June: Kevin Bacon of  "Footloose."

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

What you need to know about medical credit cards