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GE Care Credit Card for Dental Work; But They Are Being Investigated For Fraud
GE Care Credit Card Being Investigated
According to an article in The Fiscal Times on 09/01/10, GE Care Credit is being investigated for fraud by the Attorney General in the State of New York. This investigation has been prompted by hundreds of consumer complaints to the attorney general. GE Care Credit cards are currently being offered in over 130,000 dentists' and doctors' offices across the country. They are designed for patients who either have no insurance or need more care than their insurance company offers. This article in The Fiscal Times and others have recently pointed out that the participating dentist or doctor is paid a sort of "finder's fee" or commission, based on the number of revolving credit cards they "sell". Great news for patients!!!
Sure, I Would Love to Buy That X-ray Machine!
There are so many horror stories about dental and medical credit cards it is almost unbelievable! One woman went in for some dental X-rays and a cleaning, applied for the credit card and then received a bill for $2300.00. Those are some pretty expensive X-rays. My gosh! Did she get to take the X-ray machine home with her?
A man went to the dentist and signed up for $5600.00 worth of dental work, but then decided to go to a different dentist to have the work done. The credit card company sent him bills for the first dentist, even though no services had ever even been given to him.
The stories go on and on, too numerous to cite here. The state of California recently enacted a law that went into effect in January 2010. It states simply that dentists cannot charge patients until the work is actually performed.
In my opinion, it is never a good thing to go to any practitioner by yourself, especially when you are in pain. Pain fogs the brain and you need to have someone with you to give you the support that you need. An advocate, in a way. Someone you know that will act as a buffer or will speak up if they see that someone is taking advantage of you or not providing the level of care that you require. If you go alone, you may find that you, too, have purchased an X-ray machine.
Know Your Benefits
Before you go to the dentist, know the benefits of your policy. If you cannot understand what is covered, ask for help. Call your dental insurance company prior to your visit. Simply tell them that you do not understand. If you have to, call them from the dentist's office and tell them what treatment is being advised and ask what part of that is covered. In the past few years, I have seen far too many people that I know come out of the dentist's office with a huge bill, even when they have insurance. That tells me something is wrong and it should tell you the same thing. If you see a brochure for a credit card at the receptionist's desk, hesitate to see that provider. When a provider is being paid a commission for selling the credit card, it stands to reason that the more services he can sell you, the more money he can make.
Proceed with Caution!
If you are sure that you know your dental insurance benefits and that you need more work right away than you can afford, most dentists still offer a payment plan. Inquire about that, instead of signing up for a credit card that may charge up to 25% interest. If the work can wait, then wait. So many times you go to the dentist with only one tooth hurting, but the dentist gives you a 2 page list of what work you need. Another option, especially if you have the type of dental insurance that has a yearly limit, is to find out when your new benefit year will start and schedule the work to take advantage of two benefit years.
Finally, the American Dental Association is being questioned regarding their endorsement of the GE Care Credit card program. Not only that, but they endorse other dental credit cards and they should be asked why.
Take the Time to File a Complaint!
If you have had a bad experience with GE Care Credit or any of the other medical and dental credit cards, take the time to file a complaint. That is the only way that unscrupulous lending practices can be stopped. If you don't feel like writing and mailing a letter, the best way to let your experience be known is to go to the web site of your state's Attorney General. They will have a 'contact us' page. Send them an e-mail and let them know what happened to you. Your state Insurance Commissioner also has a web site. E-mail them a complaint also.
The state of New York did not just start to investigate GE Care Credit because they had nothing better to do. They started their investigation because so many people complained about shoddy business practices.