Why does the South have such ugly credit scores?

It’s certainly not what I would have guessed. It has nothing to do with race or education or even income. According to this article, it is medical debt. It can happen to anyone at any time at any income level.

I also had no idea how bad credit scores could cripple an entire economy.

This is a 6-minute read, but worth the time.


16 thoughts on “Why does the South have such ugly credit scores?

  1. Having spent 40 years on the other side of the medical debt issue, I think there is a different reason. After all, people in the North have medical debts too.

    The South has a long history of populism. Remember Huey P Long, and that Bonny and Clyde were seen as heroes. That is reflected in the laws and the courts. Collecting an unsecured debt in the South is virtually impossible.

    Patients were often shocked to find out they were expected to pay the portion not covered by their insurance. (in dentistry, the insurance barely covers expenses so the co-pay is 100% of your income)

    There is a subculture of chronic deadbeats. Many structure their lives to avoid paying debts. If you try to garnish wages, you find that the IRS already has them garnished to the legal maximum well beyond their life expectancy. In much of the South, judges are elected, so the courts are very tolerant of deadbeats.

    So, there is no way to make them pay their debts, but they cannot escape the credit rating. That subculture’s rating is so bad it drags down the whole region.


  2. Yes, the article acknowledges that people in the North have medical debts too. The difference, according to the article, is whether or not the state expanded Medicaid after key provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.

    “Of the 11 states that have yet to expand Medicaid, eight sit in the South, according to KFF, a San Francisco health-policy nonprofit. Southerners were more likely to be behind on medical debt even before the ACA, but the reluctance among the region’s mostly Republican governors to participate in the Medicaid expansion has increased the gaps between the South and the rest of the country.”

    I don’t think Medicaid would help the plight of the dental community, but it seems to have lifted a lot of the bad credit score burden off the shoulders of the states that expanded it.

    People may run up a lot of debt for legal or illegal reasons, but I doubt many people run up hospital bills to make a buck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know about hospital bills but very definitely dental bills.

      When I told a patient that if he didn’t pay his balance I would take him to small claims court to collect, he laughed at me, and told me that he had already started the Bankruptcy process and his lawyer had advised him to take his family in for dental treatment before he filed since he wouldn’t be having to pay for it.

      People planning bankruptcy often run up bills immediately before filing for that reason.


      1. Maybe if Medicaid had covered dental bills you would have gotten at least part of your fees paid.

        Or, maybe if the perp knew Medicaid was going to pay his bills whether he filed bankruptcy or not, he wouldn’t have brought his family in for dental care at all.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Medicaid for dentistry is only for children and does not pay the cost of providing services unless you overtreat.

          Every dentist who takes Medicaid is either doing it as partially reimbursed charity or he is abusing children to make a profit.


  3. RE: “According to this article, it is medical debt.”

    The way I read it, the article blames the lack of Medicaid expansion for high levels of unpaid debt.

    That is, if the government (meaning your taxpaying neighbors) doesn’t pay your expenses, then debt and default may be your only options.

    I’d recommend that our reliance on medical insurance as a financing mechanism for health care is why prices are high. If prices were lower, less medical debt and fewer medical loan defaults would occur.


    1. Yes, Lois loves screwing her neighbors to pay for her bills and things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford like solar. OPM is the Democrat model for everything. No wonder there are so many unfilled jobs with all of this OPM to collect for doing nothing.


      1. OPM stands for Office of Personnel Management. If you are going to make a fool of yourself by commenting on things beyond your understanding, at least have the courtesy to be coherent. (That means “understandable.”)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Was that supposed to be cute or did you just expose yourself as a complete fool. I would hope the first but it wasn’t cute either.


  4. “Medicaid for dentistry is only for children and does not pay the cost of providing services unless you overtreat.”

    Which sounds to me like a valid reason to expand Medicaid and Medicare to cover dental… and hearing… and vision… and everything else.

    IknowIknowIknow! You don’t want YOUR tax money paying for other people’s medical bills. But it would pay for yours too.

    Maybe you’d never get sick. God bless you if you don’t. But God help you if you do and you don’t have enough money to cover the bills.

    Medical emergencies happen to everybody and there are times when nobody except the uber-rich can afford to pay them without help.

    I had a friend in Florida whose husband died from pancreatic cancer. He left her over $250,000 in debt. They were upper-middle class earners. He was an Assistant City Manager. They had health insurance. And her part of the bill was still $250,000. She was about to lose her home and everything they had. Fortunately for her, just as she was about to be put out on the street, a relative died and left her $2 million. That doesn’t happen real often. We need a better system.

    Liked by 3 people

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