Health providers accused of collusion, kickbacks to GE-backed credit card

Gergana Koleva
Health providers accused of collusion, kickbacks to GE-backed credit card
Health providers accused of collusion, kickbacks to GE-backed credit card

At least 10 health care providers used high-pressure tactics to push consumers into using a credit card sold by General Electric to pay for hard-to-insure procedures, an investigation by the New York Attorney General's office found.

More than 125,000 health care practices nationwide accept the CareCredit card, endorsed by top medical associations. They include tens of thousands of dentists, chiropractors, and others offering cosmetic, weight loss, hearing, vision, infertility, and even veterinary services and procedures.

In exchange for pushing the card, providers received kickbacks from CareCredit based on how much business they charged to it, investigators said. In some cases, health care providers claimed the card was a patient's only financing option or that it was better than cash. In hundreds of complaints, consumers said they were told the card carried no interest on balances, when in fact GE charged 25% interest if not paid in full during a promotional period.

The investigation also found that while the card company paid kickback fees in full to providers within 48 hours, they repeatedly gave consumers the runaround when they tried to get money back for unauthorized charges or services and procedures they didn't receive.

"Health care debt is the number one cause of individual bankruptcy, and this scheme is contributing to the economic burden being felt by consumers," said Attorney General Cuomo in a statement. "People are being tricked by misleading offers that have them paying for services they never received as well as interest charges they never knew about."