Medical Bill Payments

I recently received multiple doctor statements requesting medical bill payments. As I was organizing my files to pay the bills, I noticed I had no more checks left to write the payments. While going through the statements, I also noticed two of the statements allow me to pay by credit card. All I had to do is to write on the statement the card number, card type, the security code, card expiration date, and the amount I authorize for payment. Once the doctor’s office receives the statement back with my card information, they will be able to process the payment through the stated credit card. I initially thought that paying by credit card may not be a bad idea since I can improve my cash flow and also collect some additional card reward points on the transactions whereas if I pay with my checks, the money comes right out of my checking account with no rewards.

Paying by credit card was very tempting and it seemed the easiest, fastest and most profitable way to make the medical bill payments. As I considered my options, I had basically two immediate solutions; a) write down the credit card information on the statements and make the payments immediately, or b) wait and order some more checks and make the payments later. I had some problems with both of my immediate solutions.

First, I thought about the risks of making the bill payments with a credit card information written on a piece of paper sent via the US postal services. Here are the risks the went through my mind when considering this option:

1. Unknown person or persons to me in the doctors’ office can misuse my credit card information.

2. Doctor’s office may not properly dispose of my credit card information after processing the transaction. This can actually lead to fraud months and years after the transaction is completed.

3. The post office may lose my mail and deliver my credit card information to unknown location and person who may commit fraud.

Then I considered ordering checks and waiting before making the medical bill payments. I was somewhat hesitant to wait because I had already delayed the payments for weeks and could not risk being referred to collection agencies by the doctor. Plus, we have good relationship with one of the doctors and didn’t want to ruin the professional relationship.

As I was looking for other options, I came across my home equity account checks, which I had never used before for bill payment. I thought about the option for a few seconds and decided to use my home equity checks to make the medical bill payments instead of using my credit card or waiting for reordered checkbook. There is no charge or some type of fee per transaction or check writing when using the home equity line of credit funds. The only cost to me would be the interest for the period between when the check is cashed by the doctor and the time my payment hits the home equity account.

To me, this little interest amount is worth risking my credit card information and the wait to make the medical bill payments. Of course, not every one may have a home equity line of credit or even be concerned with credit card risks as I am, but it’s worth considering your options and identity fraud risks when making bill payments.

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