Dental patients in need of costly procedures may turn to medical credit cards to pay for the services. But these cards, which often include deferred-interest provisions, can pose risks.
If consumers do not fully understand the terms or fall behind on payments, they can end up facing inflated bills and crippling dental debts, as Fresno Bee reporter Manuela Tobias explained in a recent investigative piece. Continue reading
Many newly-minted dentists are burdened by the high cost of a dental education.
The average dental student graduates with more than $261,000 worth of debt, reporter Ramsey Touchberry told viewers in a recent story for University of Florida-based WUFT, citing figures from the American Dental Education Association.
Now some Florida legislators are pushing for legislation that would create a loan forgiveness program to help recent dental school graduates pay off those bills. At the same time the measure would get more care to poor and underserved communities in the state, the legislators say. Continue reading
Bad debt? Or charity care? Sean Hamill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently wrote an interesting story about how hospitals increasingly are re-categorizing the health care bills of low-income patients in a fashion that may be helping the hospital more than the patient.
Some angles in this story are especially timely as the 2017 Affordable Care Act enrollment season is about to begin. Continue reading
Covering health disparities is not a beat solely for health reporters.
Take Paul Kiel: A reporter at ProPublica, Kiel’s beat covering consumer finance usually has him covering a string of pocketbook issues, such as high-cost loans and debt collection practices.
But when those pocketbook stories started drifting into the health realm, Kiel found himself like many other journalists on other beats suddenly digging into the complicated world of medicine, providers and costs. Continue reading
Capital Public Radio’s Kelley Weiss reports that more patients are using “Dental credit cards,” lines of credit that carry high interest rates but may enable some patients to afford costly dental procedures. Plastic surgeons and veterinarians also use the cards. Despite the endorsements of dental organizations and availability at about 100,000 providers nationwide, growing numbers of patients are complaining about the cards and their issuer, CareCredit.
“It’s a new trend that we’re seeing,” said Elizabeth Landsberg, an attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “We didn’t have any of these cases in 2006. We saw some in 2007, and we saw a lot more in 2008.”
Landsberg says states are just starting to pay attention to this problem, and California’s ahead of the curve. That state is now tracking complaints, and this year saw nearly three dozen, she says. Most of these were from the poor, the elderly and non-English speakers.
Landsberg accuses CareCredit of predatory lending practices. She says people can get broadsided by a retroactive interest rate of as much as 30 percent for a late payment.
A CareCredit spokeswoman said the company did not engage in predatory lending practices, and that the majority of the company’s customers are happy.