While Americans are still spinning around with the various concerns of health care coverage and affordability, there are some solutions being passed on to consumers for footing health care bills that insurance will not cover. It may look like a saving grace for some, health care credit cards are not the only option and may not be the savviest move you can make.
What Are Health Care Credit Cards For?
Basically, health care cards are meant for medical procedures not covered by an individual’s health insurance. While the cards may cover necessary emergency situations, the majority of card users are utilizing these cards for elective procedures like breast augmentations, nose jobs, and other cosmetic surgeries insurance companies won’t cover and the individual can not normally afford out of pocket.
Depending on the physician and the procedure, those using these health care cards are also able to take advantage of certain incentives such as procedure discounts. For instance, for a cosmetic procedure costing $5000 the physician may be willing to accept $4000 when the health care card is used. This does sound like a real bargain but like with many things in – there is a catch.
What Health Care Credit Cards Really Cost You
There are a number of credit card companies offering healthcare related credit cards. Most promotional points for these types of cards include the instant approval process, low interest rates, and no down payment requirements as a way to entice customers contemplating cosmetic or elective surgeries. However, the fine print on the card say otherwise and if you are skipping over that information, you are definitely in for a financial surprise.
The biggest problem with the health care cards currently on the market is the interest rates being offered initially to attract consumers. While it is true that many health care cards do offer zero percent APRs, the no interest benefit only lasts for a limited time, typically 12 months. This means if you are not able to pay off the full balance of the procedure within that promotional time period, you will be hit with an interest rate that can actually be retroactive, leaving cardholders responsible for paying as high as 28-30% interest on the entire financed amount. For those unable to abide by those financial terms, you likely end up paying double or more for your medical procedures over the life of the debt.
Just like traditional credit card debt is still creeping up on consumers, large debts for one transaction like a cosmetic surgery can be even more difficult for consumers to pay off, leaving them in financial dire straits. Unfortunately, too many people who could not afford procedures with their income and expenses may be inclined to move forward with the procedure anyway, relying solely on the card with no real plan for how to pay off the debt during the promotional time. Several thousands of dollars charged on the card will translate to hundreds of dollars in necessary monthly payments for a long period of time.
Since living below your means is the best financial advice you are likely to get from experts, it does not pay to obtain a health care credit card if you can’t afford the surgery in cash. If you insist on going forward with elective procedures, rather than rely on a credit for our payment, incorporate a savings plan into your monthly budget. Saving up the cash for the surgery you want ensures you have no outstanding debts to worry over. It also gives you time to really think through the decision to undergo what is likely a serious medical occasion.