In the NY Times Sunday Review article, “When Health Costs Harm Your Credit,” I too know the harm unpaid health care bills can have on your credit. I learned this through a very bizarre turn of events. I’m a plastic surgeon. Back in 2010, I performed a body lift which is a cosmetic procedure to remove excess skin after massive weight loss surgery. As a cosmetic procedure, insurance does not cover this or any medical bills associated with it. Since a body lift takes several hours on the operating room table, the patient is at risk for developing blood clots in the legs, otherwise known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In an overabundance of caution after the operation, an ultrasound was performed to confirm the presence or lack of a DVT in the leg. Luckily, the patient didn’t have a DVT and recovered without incident.
Fast forward four years. I recently noticed a $675 unpaid bill on my credit report. I always pay my bills and the rest of my credit report was fine. Since I didn’t recognize this charge, I inquired further. Apparently, the patient did not pay their $675 ultrasound bill. Naturally, that would have affected her credit. Through a circuitous, bizarre tangle of hospital billing, that unpaid bill was assigned to my credit report!
I imagine that after the bill wasn’t paid, the hospital jumped from one potential payer to the next to get payment for services rendered. Luckily, the hospital has graciously agreed to start the process of removing this from my credit report, but that will take 1 to 2 months. Ironically, after four years, the bill is still unpaid!