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The Newest Vital Sign: Your Credit Score

By March 18, 2008 - 8:55am
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Hospitals are now apparently checking into a patient's credit score to gauge their ability to pay.


"Hospitals say it allows them to figure out more quickly which patients qualify for financial assistance programs, and makes them less likely to hound people who can’t or won’t pay. Some consumer advocates warn that the process could lead hospitals to deny elective procedures to patients unlikely to pay."

Do you think checking a patient's financial history is a good idea?

Add a Comment3 Comments

I agree. While I understand the 'business' of healthcare, I think it's a moral mistake to check credit scores. As some of you have said, you can have a lower score due to one late payment (late by a day or two!) and this should not factor into whether you get seen by a doctor or get surgery! Goodness! When does it end??

March 19, 2008 - 2:10pm

I totally agree that hospitals should be in the business of providing health care, not in the business of accounting.

March 18, 2008 - 5:04pm

What?! No, No, NO!!!

I am very sensitive about any mention of "credit score" right now (we're trying to buy a house), but here's what I've recently learned:

1) School loans drop your credit score *way* down.
Going to school is an investment in yourself, and unfortunately, the credit bureaus don't see it that way! School loans are considered a liabilty and decrease your credit score significantly. Amusing, though, because I thought my potential earning power is higher since I've graduated.

2) Credit cards.
Just one late payment can lower your score by more than 100 points!! Even if you have all the assets in the world, and you pay early/on time except for one late payment, it can mess up your credit score.

So, in conclusion: credit scores don't mean diddly. Your credit score is just one piece of the "financial puzzle", and does not include your assets and other factors.

Beyond these, and many more finer details, the biggest reason that this is not a good idea: people should have easy access to health care! Hospitals are in the business of providing health care, which is where they should spend their precious few resources. Hospitals should not be in the financial business---if they are, this country really needs health care reform...and fast!

March 18, 2008 - 2:23pm
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