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Be careful before blindly signing up for medical credit cards

Medical debt remains one of the most prevalent forms of debt carried by residents of Cuyahoga Falls and across the county. Yet unlike other types of debt, it's one that's not easily avoided. No one is expected to refuse medical care when it's necessary, and even those with health insurance can be saddled with enormous medical bills depending upon the type of service that's needed. The fear of drowning in such debt can often lead people to make rash, hurried decisions in order to potentially avoid it.

One such decision that many across the country have come to regret is signing up for medical care credit cards offered through healthcare providers to pay for medical expenses. These payment options come with the promise of no interest accruing on the patient's account. Yet many are actually deferred interest products that only allow for no interest during a promotional period. If the patient hasn't paid off the balance before the promotional period ends, he or she is held responsible for the interest accrued during that time, which often is at rates near 30%. After receiving hundreds of complaints from patients who were misled about the true nature of these plans, one of the country's largest providers of these types of cards was recently ordered to repay over $34 million in restitution.

That's not to say that all of the plans offered through providers are deferred interest products. One should ask the appropriate questions before accepting such an offer to avoid what in the end can amount to very expensive loan.

As the cost of medical care continues to rise, more patients will no doubt be faced with the prospect of dealing with medical debt. Those looking for options on how to deal with back-breaking amounts of this debt may wish to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to see which of those options is best for them.

Source: The New York Times "A Medical Credit Card Has Surprising Costs" Ann Carrns, Dec. 10, 2013

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