New York AG Obtains Health Care Credit Card Settlement

Posted on June 10th, 2013 in Payments, State Issues By BuckleySandler

On June 3, AG Schneiderman announced an agreement with a credit card issuer to resolve an investigation into alleged consumer protection concerns arising from the offering of credit cards through medical care providers. The AG cited a Health Care Bureau investigation that found the health care provider application process is often rushed and occurs when treatment is set to begin, resulting in consumers feeling pressured into applying for the card and being charged the full amount for treatment in advance of receiving services. The AG claimed that, in many instances, providers failed to inform consumers of the terms of the card and represented that the account had “no interest,” when it carried retroactive interest of 26.99% if not paid in full during a promotional period. Other consumers allegedly thought that they were signing up for an in-house, no-interest payment plan directly with their provider, or a line of credit with 0% interest. Under the agreement, the issuer will establish an appeals fund for certain card holders who disputed a claim and were denied, which could result in refunds or credits of up to $2 million to approximately 1,000 card holders. The issuer also must implement consumer protection and compliance measures, including, among others: (i) offering a three-day “cooling off” period, such that no transaction over $1,000 can be charged within three days of an initial application, (ii) adding a set of “Transparency Principles” to provider contracts to ensure that providers accurately describe card terms, and implementing other health care provider training and oversight measures, (iii) revising promotional interest rate and other disclosures, and (iv) standardizing complaint management procedures.

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