Just out of curiosity, approximately how much would my credit score go down if I don't pay a $500 hospital bill?

  • Do you mean "don't pay" as in refuse to pay the bill ever, or "don't pay" as in be late with the payment? Commented Jan 25, 2011 at 20:56
  • as in "refuse to pay"
    – Vitalik
    Commented Jan 25, 2011 at 21:40

4 Answers 4


One data point: I screwed up and simply missed one $25 bill for one month, I paid it the next month. I took about a 50 point hit from it.

  • Wow. That stinks. I just missed a payment a couple of months ago by accident. I hate the thought that my forgetting caused a 50 point drop in my score.
    – RHPT
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:45

There are several issues involved. They include 1) "missed" payments, 2) NON payments 3) severity, and 4) recency.

When you "miss" a payment, your credit score declines "significantly" (a multiple of ten points). The issue has less to do with the amount than with the fact that you now have a "record" of non-payment. If you pay the bill the following month, so that you have no arrearage, you regain most (but not all) of the loss, because you are now "caught up." If a second month goes by without payment, your credit score takes another hit, up to about the 4-6 month range. About now, you are a certified "deadbeat," but if that's the only bill you've missed, there will come a point where your score doesn't go down more.

There's obviously more damage from say, a foreclosure, which is a large amount. Still, if you are foreclosed and start paying your other bills on time, your credit score will rebound, even after about 6 months, because you have "good" credit on those bills partly offsetting your bad.

In any event, as time goes by the impact of a missed payment or even foreclosure itself diminishes. This typically starts to take place some 2-3 years after your last major "event," a lesser amount of time for a small bill.


It will go down some amount the first 30 days it is late, some more the next 30 and some more after that.

How much really depends on what your current history is. If it is your first bill you will be hurt pretty bad, but if you have 30 years of history you will sluff it off after a shorter period of time.

Once you are sent to collection, you can expect another dip. Then the statute of limitations will hit after seven years or so, and your credit score will then start to repair.

  • but HOW bad? will it go from 800 to 750, 700, 650?
    – Vitalik
    Commented Nov 27, 2010 at 14:24
  • It really matters about the rest of your score. I hear a mortgage foreclosure will drop nearly 400 points from a nearly perfect score, so a missed bill might cost you 100. It is just a guess.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Nov 27, 2010 at 15:50

One more thing about hospital bills: They may be able to put a lien on your property if you don't pay. I've heard of this happening to people my friends knew. They were trying to sell a house, and an unpaid bill from a hospital had to be settled before they could sell.

So it may be more than your credit rating you have to worry about. One more reason not to skip out on your bills.

  • As far as i know anybody can put a lien on your property. even a plumber if he is willing to go through the paperwork. I doubt a hospital will do it for $500. Also that sounds doesn't sound so bad since you are just delaying a payment for many years. Though i bet there are some fee and interested on top of that
    – Vitalik
    Commented Nov 27, 2010 at 14:23
  • @Vitalik The hospital will wash its hands of the matter and sell the debt to a collector. They'll put the lien on your property. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 1:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .