An author exploring the role of doctors as money lenders to their patients in an article published in Volume 84 again weighed in on a similar issue (that is, medical credit cards) in a recent Fox Business article.
Fox Business discussed the potential risks of seeking a credit card that is exclusively for medical and dental costs, including higher interest rates than those of traditional credit cards, in Medical Credit Cards: Treatment Today, Payment Headaches Tomorrow, published on March 25, 2013.
In the article, Jim Hawkins, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, explained that medical credit cards are not covered by the Truth in Lending Act, unlike other credit cards, meaning that medical providers are not required to disclose why they chose a particular financial institution in offering medical credit cards.
The article then cites Hawkins’ work in the Review to explain that without proper oversight, patients may mistakenly believe they are taking a loan directly from the doctor instead of a third-party financial institution.
Hawkins’ article, Doctors as Bankers: Evidence From Fertility Markets, explored the potential of abuse of the doctor-patient relationship when doctors discuss financing options to cover medical costs with the patient, particularly where such practice is not currently subject to regulation.1Tul. L. Rev.[sc:/sc] 841 (2010).]
As Hawkins elaborated in both his article and for Fox Business, this potential for abuse is compounded when the doctor does not make clear who will provide the credit: the doctor directly or a third party.2