Downside of using credit cards to pay medical bills for COVID-19

Insurers waive their own costs for diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and some also waive visiting costs associated with testing. It is imperative that you check with your insurance company and keep up to date with federal changes for the exact tests or services being waived and over what period. However, you can still incur significant medical costs if you need treatment for COVID-19, so stay tuned for the design of healthcare policy regarding out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 as it evolves rapidly.

Today, many people pay for most of their purchases with their credit card. Some also do this with their medical bills. However, the question is, is it wise to pay your COVID-19 medical bills with your credit card? It depends. Below are points to consider to help you decide whether you should use your credit card to pay your medical bills or not.

Benefits of Using Your Credit Cards to Pay Medical Bills

  • Acceptability: Credit cards are widely accepted and are always sufficient if a service provider does not accept checks. It’s also a great option in situations where you can’t write a check or pay cash for a procedure.
  • Convenience: Credit cards are very easy to obtain if you meet your credit requirements. It is so simple that you can get one almost immediately after applying.
  • Interest Rates: Credit cards sometimes offer a promotional period with low or no interest. It gets even better if you use one with a 0% APR period; with this, your interest will not accrue until the APR period is over.
  • Rewards and Benefits: You can get rewards from your credit card provider when you use cards to offset bills.
  • Develop a positive payment history: Your credit card can help you develop a positive payment history if you make your payments on time.

Disadvantages of using credit cards to offset medical bills

  • Insurance: Make sure you know exactly what your insurance covers, because getting your money back after paying with your credit card can be tedious and take a very long time. There is a high probability that insurance coverage related to COVID-19 treatments may change as it is a new health issue.
  • Bad Credit Score: You can seriously damage your credit score if you default on a credit card payment for more than thirty (30) days and your provider reports the late payment to the agency. Fortunately, healthcare providers cannot report your payment arrears for at least six months; this way you have more time to protect your credit score.
  • Increased Debt: Many medical debts carry no interest. However, if you take a balance on your card and you don’t have a 0% rate, you can accrue interest when you use your card to pay medical bills.

Additional Steps When Paying Medical Bills

  • Know your payment options: Don’t wait for an emergency to know your payment options, as emergencies are not the best times to make wise money decisions.
  • Double check your medical bills: Your bills can be saddled with errors. So always check that you are not paying for errors or double bills.
  • Confirm insurance coverage: Make sure your insurance covers what it’s supposed to do. This can take a few phone calls to your insurer if your policy book is unclear.
  • Negotiate your bill: You can negotiate anything, including healthcare. You can try negotiating a reduced balance with your healthcare provider using average cost estimates from your insurer or online resources. However, remember that every circumstance is unique and yours may be more complex.
  • Bill Payment Plans: Most likely, your healthcare provider is open to a workable payment plan. You may only be able to pay X right now, but in 60 days you could pay more. Ask your provider to consider your circumstances, while keeping in mind that your doctor or medical facility also runs a business.
  • Get Home Equity Line Of Credit: If you own a home, you can get a medical loan with reasonable interest rates. However, you can lose your house if you don’t pay back, so you can try to get a loan from relatives or friends.
  • File for bankruptcy: While this may seem extreme, consider it when other options prove fruitless and your debt ceiling is such that you need a fresh start.

Using your credit card to pay your medical bills, including treatment for the coronavirus, can be a quick fix, but it can have additional long-term negative consequences. Evaluate your situation and all available options.

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