You Shouldn’t Go Into Debt Because You Get Sick

But here we are

Andy Spears


Photo by Adhy Savala on Unsplash

Medical debt is gross.

It is clear evidence that in American capitalism, profit beats people every time.

Insurance companies are the biggest winners in our healthcare system.

But other profiteers are eager to get their hands on cash from people unlucky enough to fall ill or face a medical emergency.

One example is the proliferation of medical credit cards.

“Financial firms are partnering with health care players to push products that can drive patients deep into debt,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We are opening a public inquiry to better understand how these practices are affecting patients in our country.”

Doctors and hospitals rightly want to ensure they get paid. The finance companies behind medical credit cards make that happen. Then, they can charge interest and engage in aggressive debt collection tactics.

“Even when medical care may otherwise be covered by insurance or financial assistance, patients may be pitched these products by their health care providers who then pass the administration of patient billing and collections over to financial service companies. The CFPB’s research has highlighted that healthcare providers may be disincentivized to explain legally mandated financial assistance programs or zero-interest repayment options before offering these products to patients.”

Now, the CFPB is taking on medical debt. No, their plan won’t eliminate it. But a proposal the agency is making would eliminate all medical debt from consumer credit reports.

“Negative credit reporting is one of the biggest pain points for patients with medical debt,” said Chi Chi Wu, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “When we hear from consumers about medical debt, they often talk about the devastating consequences that bad credit from medical debts has had on their financial lives. A bad credit score doesn’t just affect your ability to get credit, but also your employment prospects, insurance rates, and ability to get rental housing.”

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .