Trend: Consumer medical finance market grows

Bigger deductibles. Larger co-pays. More policy exclusions. It's hardly surprising patients are beginning to look for new ways to pay for their care. And the always-helpful consumer credit industry is increasingly stepping in to fill the gap.

Many lenders are offering zero-interest healthcare services financing, a favored marketing tactic in the automotive lending world, but slamming consumers with 20-plus percent interest rates if they miss a payment or even turn one in late. (In an interesting note, some health plans--including United Healthcare--have also gotten into this market, establishing special credit plans for patients with health savings plans.)

Some of the procedures consumers finance are elective or at least not urgent, such as $3,500 eye surgeries or $6,000 ceramic tooth implants. But consumers without health insurance--or those who need procedures not covered by their plan--are borrowing large sums to pay for care.  And consumers who don't qualify for zero-interest teaser-rate loans are often financing care on high-interest credit cards. Small wonder that medical bills are a major and growing cause of consumer bankruptcy.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from The New York Times

Related Article:
Patients paying medical bills with credit cards. Report