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Loans for Surgery?

I read every injury litigation magazine I can get my hands on. A lot of them come from the U.S. Recently I noticed an advertisement for surgery loans. The company selling the service says it specializes in loans for spine, orthopaedic and other complex surgeries. The idea that a seriously injured person would need a loan for healthcare is shocking.

The service is lien-based. The lender pays for the surgery and then gets paid back out of your settlement money or judgment money when the case is finished.

This sort of arrangement is not unusual. We have something like it here in Ontario. An injured person may not have enough money to pay for the many expert reports necessary to advance an injury claim properly. You can ask your injury lawyer to help secure litigation financing through companies such as Seabrook Holdings or Bridgepoint. These companies will lend you the money necessary to pay for expert reports and court costs. They will also make loans to simply help you get through a very difficult time. The bills don’t care that you have a spinal cord injury. They want paid anyway.

The interest rate on these loans is very high – over 20% per year. For some people, they mean the difference between buying groceries and going to the Food Bank. They are helpful but should only be used where absolutely necessary. The money is paid back on completion of your case. Clients are always surprised at how fast interest accumulates at 22% or 24%.

The American ad for surgery loans says the service is free – no interest, no administration charges. My curiosity is in hyperdrive (but then it’s always there). Where’s the profit for this lender? Let’s not kid ourselves. These companies are not charities. So what’s in it for them? Fortunately, we don’t have to find out. We live in a country where your surgery, whether at Sunnybrook in Toronto, Kingston General Hospital or the Ottawa Civic, is covered. No liens. No loans. No strings.

If only our auto insurance policies were so simple.

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