Yesterday was the mortgage loan application, for fun. The lending officer came to my apartment to do it. Lovely. I mean, kind of weird, but lovely. They’re a small mom & pop company of independent agents who process loans and, of course, sell them to a bank (most likely Wells Fargo or GMAC), and they also do homeowners insurance. They’re very nice people, they motivated me to clean, and I detect no hints of intent to screw me. Plus they didn’t even want a glass of water.
Anyway. The loan officer, who is darling, pulled out all the paperwork from what she’d run on my financial history since 1977, and that’s when it hit.
Remember when I had that endoscopy back in February? And remember how my insurance through the contract with my union is an asshole and didn’t pay nearly what they should? And so I appealed their coverage? And the doctors in question (anesthesiologist and pathologist) knew of the appeals? And I had made good-faith payments to both of them in the amount of 20% of the total bills, which is what I believed I actually owed, to hold the accounts? I had even updated them both at the beginning of the second week of September.
Yeah. Pathologist still sent me to collections. On September 12th.
And didn’t tell me.
Two weeks later, I hadn’t even heard from the collections agency.
It showed up on two of the three credit reporting companies, TransUnion and Equifax. I had checked all three to make sure there were no errors or “red lights.” Nothing had shown up, but I think I checked about two days before the pathologist sent me to fiscal purgatory. Take a wild guess what that did to my credit score.
Dropped me 97 points.
I have excellent credit. Seriously. I was hovering near 800 in my scores before this hit. Now I’ve dropped below 700 on TransUnion and Equifax (the report didn’t show up on Experian).
If you could have felt what happened to my stomach when this woman showed me this report, you would have thought you’d just summitted the highest point of any roller coaster known to man and then fallen from it in an uncontrollable corkscrew.
Emphasis on screw.
The very kind and empathetic woman assured me that this would not affect my ability to get the loan. Apparently, lenders understand that doctors, insurance companies and unions in contracts with insurance companies are assholes, so they have a provision that says that outstanding medical collections within reason are permissible. If I were getting an FHA loan, any medical bill outstanding in the amount of $1000 or more would be a problem. But I’m not getting an FHA loan (and this particular collection was only for $358. Combined with the anesthesiologist, it’s more than $1,000, but the anesthesiologist isn’t an asshole).
As I told the lending officer: it’s not that I can’t pay the bill. It’s that I shouldn’t have to. It’s that the insurance company did as they are wont to do and tried to refuse payment, and the pathologist’s office decided to be disingenuous and vindictive even after they’d been paid about 40% of the bill.
She completely understood. But the fact remained: this was going to be an issue. It had already nicked me for a quarter of a percent on the loan’s interest rate. If I didn’t get it cleared up right away, it could haunt me.
So as soon as, and I mean as soon as I had signed and initialed umpteen pieces of paper (including the one that said what I will pay if I wind up playing out the loan for its full 30 years – I laughed out loud) and the loan officer had left, I got on the horn to the collections agency. The debt is now, begrudgingly, paid, and they faxed a letter to the loan officer saying that the report had been made to TransUnion and Equifax in error, the debt was paid in full and they would be removing the report from my credit history permanently.
But here’s the hook: it will still take up to 30 days to reflect on my credit report. And the removal of that blemish does not mean my scores will go back up to 795. If I’m lucky, they will go to 720 (though the one on Experian will remain at 790 or higher). So I’m left to “build up my credit” from a huge blow, through no fault of my own. Sure, I still have really good credit. But it was only one bill, from one doctor, due to one fight with an insurance company through the union, that hit me so hard.
As I was told, the reason it hit me that hard is that I don’t have “qualified debt.” In my stellar credit history, there is nothing more cumbersome than a car loan, which is much easier to get than a mortgage. If I had a previous mortgage loan, the hit wouldn’t have been nearly as hard.
After I got off the phone with the collections agency I didn’t know existed, I fired off a furiously-typed missive to two of my three sisters (the ones who are homeowners – the youngest didn’t get it – she’s 22 and a worrier and didn’t need to know), knocked back a martini, blessed the Russians for their contribution to society and told myself there was nothing else I could do. I just have to wait until I hear from the bank about the loan.
This morning I woke to discover that my back has absorbed all the stress of the last week and is no longer cooperating with the rest of my body.
Hell if I’m going to the doctor.
Now on my bookshelf: Do Not Ask What Good We Do – Robert Draper