Advice on Medical Debts Incurred by Minor

Can medical debts be reported on my credit, when I was under 18?

When i was 17 i gave birth to my son. I had Medicaid but there was some mix up and they didn't pay my hospital bills. I never had a chance to have good credit because these medical bills show up on my credit report. So my 2 questions are: a. can it report on my credit if i was under 18?, if not what can i do to have it taken off? b. is there anything i can do about my insurance not paying?

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  • Most states will not enforce contracts signed by minors.
  • Some states make an exception for medical debt and other necessaries.
  • Consult with a lawyer in your state to learn the answer for your state.

Whether you can be held legally liable for this debt depends on the laws of your state regarding debts incurred by minors. In most states, many obligations created by minors are considered void, as minors are not legally capable of entering binding contracts. However, many states provide exceptions to this rule for debts incurred for necessities, such as non-elective medical treatment. Hospital care provided during the birth of your son could certainly be viewed as a necessity, so you may be liable for the debt.

Some states require that the provider attempt to collect from the minor’s parents prior to turning to the minor for payment, as parents are generally liable for any necessary medical treatment provided to their minor children. This is called the doctrine of necessaries.

However, if your parents are unable to pay, the creditor may have a legal claim against you personally. Since the laws regarding debts created by minors vary significantly from state to state, I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state to discuss your rights and obligations in this situation. Consulting with an attorney in your area should provide you with the information you need to determine your liability and help you resolve this outstanding medical debt.

Quick Tip

The Bills.com Debt Coach offers non-nonsense information about your debt relief options, and will give you the pros, cons, and costs for each.

If you determine that the contract creating this obligation was not legally binding, then the account should probably not be appearing on your credit report. A debt must be legally enforceable for the listing to accurately show up on your credit reports. If you feel that this debt is not valid, you may wish to dispute any listings related to the account with the three major consumer credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When you dispute the listings, you should explain to the credit bureaus that these debts are not legal debts due to the fact that you were a minor when the services were rendered; you may also wish to provide any documentation you have to substantiate your claim, such as a copy of your birth certificate, a hospital release form, and a copy of any state statute or court case which establishes that any contract entered into by a minor is void.

The Federal Trade Commission offers a free guide on disputing inaccurate credit report listings. In addition to disputing these accounts with the credit bureaus, you may wish to formally dispute the validity of the debts with the creditor and debt collector directly, which will put the creditor on notice that you do not believe this debt to be a legally collectable obligation. An example dispute letter can be found at the Bills.com Debt Do-It-Yourself page, though you will need to tailor this letter to the specifics of your situation, explaining the fact that you were a minor at the time the debt was incurred.

Statute of Limitations

Depending on how long ago you gave birth to your son, your state’s statute of limitations for the collection of this outstanding debt may have expired; if the statute of limitations has expired, the creditor would likely be barred from taking any legal action against you to collect on this account. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state and also depend on the type of debt being collected. For medical debts, which are generally considered written contracts, statutes of limitations generally range from three to six years, but are significantly longer in a few states.

To find out the statute of limitations for the collection of debts in your state, see the Bills.com resource Statute of Limitations Laws by State Also, you should know that, under federal law, delinquent accounts must be removed from your credit report 7 years after the date of first delinquency, which means that they will fall off your credit report within roughly seven and a half years of the date the account first became delinquent. If the age of this debt is approaching your state’s statute of limitations or the 7-year credit reporting limit, waiting for these time periods to expire may be an easier solution than actively trying to dispute the debt.

You should keep in mind that this may be a valid debt depending on your state’s laws related to obligations created by minors, so you should research your state’s laws and consult with an attorney before you decide the best course of action to resolve these accounts. If you find that you are liable for the debts and would like to try to resolve the accounts, you should visit the Bills.com Debt Help page to learn about various options available to consumers to help them resolve their outstanding obligations. If you submit your contact information in the Bills.com debt consolidation savings center, we can have several pre-screened debt relief professionals contact you to discuss the debt relief options available to you.

Insurance & Medical Debt

In regard to your insurance company not paying this medical bill, the options available to you will likely depend on the amount of time that has elapsed since the debt was incurred. Most insurance policies require that you dispute any claim denials within a certain period of time; if you do not meet the insurance company’s deadlines, they will likely refuse to pay this claim. If you did dispute the denial within the required time period and the insurance company still refused to pay your valid claim, you may wish to speak with your attorney to determine what recourse you have against your insurance company.

You may also wish to file a complaint with your state insurance regulatory agency regarding your insurance provider’s failure to pay this medical bill. If you contact your state Attorney General’s Office, they should be able to tell you how to file a formal complaint against your insurance provider.

As I mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is consult with an attorney to determine your legal liability for this debt. From there, you can determine how to best address the debt and credit reporting issues.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

13 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Tom
    You have to be very careful taking advice from internet sources. Many internet sources are run by creditors. In every state, except for certain circumstances, minors are not liable or obligated to pay for any debt, medical or otherwise, incurred before their 18th birthday. For example some minors get married at age 17 or younger. If you have a child and sign as the responsible party then yes you have to pay that bill. But those are not the circumstances I'm talking about. If your parents took you to the doctor for a 10,000 dollar surgery and your parents failed to pay that bill. At your 18th birthday or even before the creditor may attempt to bluff you into paying but make no mistake you are not responsible for that bill. If you did not sign as the responsible party then don't be bluffed into paying anything. Good Day, Tom.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Tom, as you pointed out, there are certain times when a minor is responsible for medical bills. The wise course is to consult with an attorney, if contacted for this kind of debt. It is a bad choice to pay the debt, but to ignore it, assuming that it need not be dealt with, could be harmful.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    Collection agents are not your attorney, and you should not believe legal advice from a party that has a vested interest in collecting money from you. Collection agents oftentimes offer incomplete or inaccurate legal advice, and the advice they offer is usually self serving. If you signed a guarantor agreement at the time of the medical service, then you are responsible for paying for that service. If you did not, then you are not responsible for paying for that service. If the minor child was your offspring or you adopted the child, then you are responsible for the minor's medical care. However, if the minor child is not your offspring, then you have no financial responsibility for his or her care under the common law.
    1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    K.
    I provided the health insurance coverage for my step-son, who lived in a separate state. I never made any medical appointments for him, took him to any medical appointments or signed anything claiming to be the financial party for his medical expenses not covered by insurance. A collection agency is refusing to remove my name from this past debt saying if I provide insurance then I am agreeing to pay any outstanding medical bill. I totally disagree(and have no intentions of paying the bill)! How can I be responsible for a bill I never agreed to and for a child that I have no legal obligation to?!
    2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    If stepson is an adult he is liable for the debt. Accordingly, it will appear on his credit report. However, if stepparent signed a guarantor form when stepson was admitted, then stepparent is jointly liable for the debt. Accordingly, the debt can appear on stepparent's credit report if stepparent is a guarantor.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Dirk
    My insurance denied payment for medical services provided to my 19 year old stepson. The bills ahve been handed over to a collection agency and are in his name. Who's credit report will that negative impact....his or mine because he is under my insurance?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Dee
    I am denied every form of credit I apply for (and that includes gas and store cards) and have been for my entire adult life. I managed to get a secured credit card last year, after being declined for every other form of credit (including other secured cards and supposedly "low credit" cards). My score is in the mid 600s after slow but surely raising it from the low 500s. I have to pay enormous deposits to get even utilities turned on or to rent a new apartment, and buying a home or car is out of the question, even though I have never in the 10 years of my legal adulthood missed a payment on anything other than the medical bills which have been paid off IN FULL. Better score than otehrs or not, the situation is still immensely unfair.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Bill
    In my opinion, you need to adjust your expectations regarding your credit score. A 700 for a person with your brief (relatively speaking) credit history and the near-distant-past late payments is not bad. A 700 is nothing to despair, and many Bills.com readers would love to trade scores with you. I think your "enemies" to a higher score right now are the length of your history and your credit diversity. Allow me to suggest two tactics for you. First, open a credit card at a department story or oil company and make occasional charges on the card and pay them off promptly. Second, keep your oldest credit card or account active because that is establishing the baseline for your credit history. See FICO Score Calculation to learn more about your credit score.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Dee
    When I was a minor, I went to the ER twice: once when I was 15 and once when I was 16. I had a bad relationship with my mother and moved out shortly before I turned 17. When I was 19 I applied for my first credit and was denied. When I subsequently received my first credit report, I was shocked to see that both medical collections were on my report! Since it happened twice at two separate hospitals in two separate years, the possiblity that it was a clerical error was slim. This was clearly my mother trying to get out of paying the bills by putting them in my na,e likely hoping that my being a minor would void them. There were closing dates on the report but no opening dates, so when I called the reporting agency to ask to have it removed, they told me that they could not verify that I was a minor at the time of service because there was no opening date. I thought this was ridiculous since the CLOSING dates on the cases were BOTH prior to my 18th birthday, and unless I had gone back in time for medical treatment, that would mean that I was indeed a minor at the time of service. At 19, I let this defeat me rather than fight it, and have thus had sour credit right out of the gates and ever since. The debts finally fell off of my report after 7 years, when I was 22 and 23 respectively, but when I was 23 I incurred new, legit medical debts of my own. I was still so defeated by the initial incident that I allowed the new debts to go to collections. I paid off those accounts in full earlieer this year, at the age of 27. Other than those paid-off collections, I do not have ANY derogatory marks on my report. My positive items are some current student loans (I;m in sschool so they're deferred) and a secured credit card with perfect payment history. Yet, my score remains below 700 and barely climbs no matter what efforts I make. I know the medical debts from when I was an adult ARE my fault, but I feel like I never had a chance thanks to those medical collections from when I was a minor. what insight if any is there to this situation?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    The late payment should not appear on your daughter's credit report if she was a minor at the time of service because minors a) are not responsible for the costs of their medical care, and b) cannot have any contract they enter into be enforced against them. The hospital's billing department made a big mistake by reporting this against your daughter's credit report. Here is what you need to do: First, contact the medical office's billing department and explain that they reported a late payment on a minor. If the first person you speak to explains that the behavior is "office policy," you may have to go up the chain of command before you find a manager who finds the policy ridiculous. Second, wait 90 days and check the credit reporting agencies to see if the medical office actually corrected the information they provided. If they have and the derogatory entry is changed but not removed, file a debt dispute letter, which you can find at the Bills.com debt self-help center. Finally, in the meantime, your daughter can apply for and almost certainly get a secured credit card.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Leslie
    My daughter, now a college student, tried to get a credit card but was denied. When she was a minor, she got hurt and it took me a long time to pay the bill. It is showing up on her credit report and is why she was denied. The bill is paid and she was a minor at the time. Can the credit reporting agencies maintain that information on her record when she was never responsible for the bill, and she was a minor when it occured? Thank you for your help.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2009
    Mark
    Unless the child is emancipated, it is a public policy that up until the moment a child turns 18, his or her parents are responsible for their child's medical care. What you described is an emotionally problematic situation, but that doesn't change the law or a parent's responsibility. The fact that the child listed your address on a hospital admission form does not make you the guarantor of the medical debt. My suggestion is to have a heart-to-heart with the child's parents and tell them to put aside their hurt feelings or tough love or whatever justification they are using for not paying the hospital bill and submit the bills to their insurance carrier. If that doesn't work, bring the medical bills and your story to an attorney, and ask him or her to draft a letter to the parents explaining their parental responsibilities under your state's laws. Have your attorney CC the collections department at the hospital so that they have a clear picture of the responsible parties and how to reach them.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2009
    diane
    My grandson @ age 17 moved in with me in at first of year without any guardianship or legal papers drawn up. His parents had thrown him out! A week after he came to my house he had an accident while visiting friends from his hometown and went to the local hospital there. We assumed,of course that the parents still covered him on their insurance. When they asked for his address, he gave mine because that is where he was staying. The hospital bill keeps coming to my address in the childs name (who was 17 @ time,but since turned 18)and his parents refuse to pay it!I don't want this going on childs credit report,and since he is still in school, he can't pay it, but shouldn't have to. What legal papers can I print out myself showing the parents that it was still their responsibility? I don't have much money for lawyer,but could afford small fee if necessary.
    0 Votes