- Progressive senators have raised concerns about the predatory nature of medical credit cards in the US, issued by companies like Wells Fargo and Synchrony Financial.
- These credit cards, which often have high-interest rates, are frequently used by patients under duress to pay for necessary medical care.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently imposed $3.7 billion in penalties on Wells Fargo, one of the largest issuers of medical credit cards, for a range of abuses.
A group of progressive senators has voiced their concern over the negative impacts of the for-profit healthcare system in the United States, specifically the proliferation of medical credit cards.
In a letter to the CEOs of Wells Fargo and Synchrony Financial, two large issuers of medical credit cards, the senators expressed their concern that “given the circumstances in which these cards are used, medical credit cards could be predatory to patients seeking medical care and leave patients stuck paying higher costs with ‘hefty, high-interest debt.'”
The group of senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) argue that the current structure of the healthcare system often requires patients to enter into medical debt in order to access necessary medical services.
As a result, patients are often pushed into medical credit cards with high-interest rates, even when alternative payment options with lower interest rates are available.
The senators also pointed out that medical credit cards often have deceptive “no interest” periods that ultimately result in high-interest rates for patients.
The proliferation of medical credit cards is particularly concerning as more hospitals partner with banks to market these cards to patients who cannot afford medical care or do not have insurance coverage.
This trend results in hospitals receiving upfront payments from banks, while patients are left with high-interest credit card debt and long-term financial problems.
It is estimated that over 100 million people in the United States are burdened with medical debt, totaling over $200 billion.
“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Senator Bernie Sanders said during his 2020 presidential campaign, “one illness or disease should not ruin a family’s financial life and future.”
The senators argue that the profit-driven healthcare system and the use of medical credit cards ultimately harm patients and contribute to the financial struggles and instability faced by many Americans.
Categories: Business, Economy, Government, Healthcare, Politics, Society
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