Can Unpaid Or Partially Settled Doctor Bills Go On Your Credit Report?

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This is a little embarrassing, but here it goes…

I am one of the many Americans struggling in this down economy. I have always considered myself financially and personally responsible, but I am not working and my unemployment benefits have run out. So, I am living off limited savings while trying to meet my child support obligations and just meeting basic survival needs (food, shelter, gas, etc).

Several months ago, I started experiencing health problems, so I decided to see a doctor and get it checked out. At the same time, one of my children had health issues and had to get a lot of lab work done.

I have health insurance for my kids and I (I am required by my divorce decree to carry health insurance for them), but I am only able to buy what I call Catastrophic Coverage. In other words, it has a high deductible ($ 2500 per person per year) so all expenses up to that point come out of my pocket before the insurance kicks in.

Well, in this case, the medical expenses I incurred and the medical expenses my daughter incurred are in the thousands, but because we are both below the $ 2500 deductible mark, none of it is covered by our insurance.

So, I have been scrambling to try to come up with the money to pay these debts, but have been unsuccessful. I do have credit cards, but I do not want to pay a debt with a debt and then pay high interest fees on top of that.

So, I may have to default on these debts and I am wondering if this will be reflected on my credit report (making my situation worse). I am asking this because I know that when you open a credit account (e.g., credit card, mortgage loan, etc) and then do not pay on time or default, then those do go on your credit report.

But I am unclear as to whether the patient accounts my daughter and I have with our doctors are considred “credit accounts” and can be reported to the credit bureaus.

Can someone please help clarify this for me?

I feel really bad because I would immediately pay my debts if I had the resources to do so. I am not a deadbeat trying to avoid paying a bill. Just hard timing right now and wanting to know what I am up against.

Thank you!

  1. Reply
    v b
    February 7, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Yes, medical bills will eventually show up on your credit. While you don’t want to switch the money to your credit card (because of the interest), at least if it’s on the credit card, your minimum payments will prevent it from being past due.

    There is a bill in congress right now to require credit bureuas to delete the entries for medical bills–once they have been paid in full–but the bill hasn’t passed yet. While the bill isn’t intended for you–you gambled that you could cover the deductible and were wrong–if it passes, you would be covered.

  2. Reply
    February 7, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Yes, they can go on your credit report. The best thing to do is to work out a payment plan directly with the doctors. As long as it is between you and the doctor, it won’t hit your credit report. If they turn the account over to a collections agency, it becomes an issue on your credit.

    It costs the doctor/hospital money to send something to collections so they may be willing to work with you on a repayment plan or reduction of your bill. Some money is better than no money in these cases. While the doctor is running a business and deserves to be paid for services rendered, everyone understands what is going on with the economy. Approaching the doctor and asking to work out a repayment plan will work a lot better than making them come after you for the money.

    Good luck.

  3. Reply
    My Take on It
    February 7, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Yes, medical bills show up on your credit report if you do not pay them, and they go to collections or they get judgments against you.

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