Some healthcare providers have been offering easy access to credit lines to help patients cover their rising out-of-pocket costs. But critics say the practice can be exploitive and harm patients.
Now U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has asked the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate, and possibly take action against, entities that offer credit cards, loans and other financial products that help patients pay for medical and dental services that aren't covered by their insurance.
In a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray (PDF), Markey wrote that seniors and seriously ill individuals are often on the receiving end of these financial pitches—which typically come directly from a “trusted” provider or facility administering care, not the third-party company that sets the terms and conditions. He asked the CFPB to investigate the incentives given to providers who offer these financing options, whether consumers are adequately informed about the fine print on repayments and penalties, and how well complaints are handled.