New York Attorney General Investigating Health Care Credit Cards

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating health care credit cards peddled by doctors and dentists.

Cuomo has received "hundreds of complaints from consumers" about the cards, The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Investigators will look into financial incentives providers receive for promoting the cards that can leave patients struggling with overcharges and high interest rates, Cuomo said. 'You can't wear two hats in the operating room,' the attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor said in Buffalo. 'You can't have the hat of a doctor and the hat of a financing agent at the same time. That's a conflict of interest.' Subpoenas have been issued to 10 providers, some with multiple offices, that promote GE Money's CareCredit card, Cuomo said. Meanwhile, medical associations that endorse the card, including the American Dental Association and American Society of Plastic Surgeons, are being asked to explain their support. Cuomo's office also issued subpoenas to learn how three other health care card programs are run: Chase Health Advance, Visa Health Benefits and Citibank Health Card" (Thompson, 8/4).

Reuters/ABC News: "The attorney general said he is examining whether healthcare lending practices are driving seniors and lower-income patients deeper into debt. Cuomo said some providers have pressured consumers into using the CareCredit card through 'fast-talking sales pitches and deceit,' and that CareCredit often pays kickbacks to those providers based on how much business is charged. The attorney general cited several cases in which patients with CareCredit agreements were allegedly charged thousands of dollars each for work that was done improperly or not at all. … According to its website, CareCredit offers payment options for expenses not covered by insurance, including no-interest loans for as long as 24 months" (Stempel and Gralla, 8/4).

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