Dental Credit Card Investigation in NY

Dental credit card investigationMedical and dental credit cards are being investigated by Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Attorney General, for allegations of predatory lending practices.

His office has received complaints from hundreds of patients who were convinced by their doctor or dentist to sign up for a medical or dental credit card, only to find themselves beset by high interest rates and surcharges.

The Attorney General’s office has issued subpoenas primarily to investigate GE Money’s CareCredit card, but other subpoenas have also been issued for Chase Health Advance, Visa Health Benefits and Citibank Health Card.

Concerns have been raised that it is inappropriate for a dentist (or other medical practitioner) to simultaneously push for dental treatment and for dental financing.

Read more: NY AG investigating health care credit cards

Dentists Prefer Outside Financing (video)

Dental financingThe average dentist offers patients outside dental financing options, we found in this survey of dentists.

Most dentists these days don’t offer their own dental financing, relying instead on dental credit cards and outside dental payment plans. “We’ve never offered inside financing,” said one prosthodontist. “We don’t want to deal with any problems, so we farm the financing out.”

“I wouldn’t be able to sell all the cases without dental financing,” said one dentist.

Read more: Dental Financing: Outside Is Better Than Inside

Has It Become Harder for Dental Patients to Get Dental Financing? (video)

Dental financing can be a real challenge, with 65% of dentists reporting that it has gotten harder for dental patients to get credit.

Dental credit cards, dental loans and other dental financing options let dentists avoid the risk of in-house dental financing.

But sometimes lenders don’t want to take the risk of either making it hard for many patients to get dental credit for dental care.

Read more: Dental Patients Can’t Get Credit: Dentist Survey

Dental Financing Important in Tough Times

In this survey, the majority of dentists said they offer their patients outside financing options.

Very few dental practices these days offer their own financing. “We’ve never offered inside financing,” wrote one prosthodontist. “We don’t want to deal with any problems, so we farm the financing out.”

Here are some other things dentists had to say:

  • “It is more difficult now for people to afford one more payment that they need to come up with the money for. In this economic climate, if it doesn’t hurt to offer financing if they want to wait.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “It really increases production and collections. Patients love the 0% financing.” (California dentist)
  • “Outside financing has been a tremendous financial boon for our practice. Relationships stay where they should be when the payment is to a 3rd party.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “We use Care Credit.” (California periodontist)
  • “We’ve never offered inside financing. Everyone I’ve talked to says DON’T DO IT!” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “We are surprised by the number of patients who are turned down by the outside agency. In most cases, we would have provided in-house arrangements.” (Ohio oral surgeon)

Read more: Dentists Prefer Outside Dental Financing,/p>

Raising Dental Fees May Be a Dentist’s Only Choice

In this survey, 22% of dentists said they have raised their fees to stay competitive.

The majority, however, haven’t yet done so, and a few docs have even lowered fees.

“No one’s lowering my costs. So far my vendors, my labs, and my employees haven’t volunteered to lower their costs to me!” said a New York prosthodontist.

Dentists had a lot of opinions on the subject:

  • “We have considered raising fees, but we are holding off for now. We were concerned we may discourage patients from proceeding with routine care and surgical therapy.” (California periodontist)”I have raised fees, but so far, it has not translated to the bottom line.” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “We may not raise fees unless supply costs continue to rise. Wages must also remain as is, or fees will have to rise.” (Wisconsin dentist)
  • “The drop in the financial market has affected us. Gross is down 35%.” (New York dentist)
  • “We raised our fees significantly and there has not been one complaint.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Elective procedures are down, and patients are deferring expensive dental implant restorations.” (New York oral surgeon)
  • “We might increase cash discounts to encourage cash flow.” (Missouri dentist)

Read more: Changing Dental Fees in a Tough Economy

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