We humans hunger for approval. Consider two recent front-page Tribune stories: March 4, Young girls plead for approval on YouTube; and March 5, Medical bills can hurt credit, even when paid.
The first story told of girls, as young as 10, posting videos of themselves on the Internet and begging to know, Am I pretty or ugly? They got thousands of the anonymous responses, many harshly insulting.
The second story told of adults being shocked to learn that past-due medical bills lowered their credit scores, even when finally paid. They want Congress to pass a law saying overdue medical bills must be erased from peoples credit histories within 45 days after being paid.
To me, the more troubling of the two stories was, by far, the one about the girls asking anybody and everybody in Internet-land, Am I pretty or ugly? Its also the harder of the two problems to fix.
I can remember the embarrassment of being an uncoordinated kid with buck teeth and pimples. Nowadays, many kids also are overweight, or at least they think they are.
We understand why the evil queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sought reassurance by asking Mirror, mirror on the wall, whos the fairest one of all? We shouldnt be surprised that todays girls ask for reassurance from their computer screens.
So what are parents to do? Maybe it would help to introduce their girls to groups where they can make real friends, such as Girl Scouts, church groups, Boys & Girls Club, sports teams, theatrical clubs and baton corps?
The other problem the one about credit scores is much easier to fix. I find it helps to remember that my medical bills are my bills, not Medicares bills, not my private insurance companys bills.
Medicare and my private insurance company are called third-party payers. I am the first party. The second party is my doctor or hospital or lab.
Medicare and my private insurance company made a deal with me to pay my medical bills. But if they dont pay them promptly, I know I must. Medical bills are no different than credit card bills or loan payments.
Some doctors even require that you pay before you leave their offices. Then they notify Medicare and your private insurance company, which in turn reimburse you. Thats what my primary care doctor does. Those bills never become overdue.
One more thing: If you only go into debt for absolute necessities, your credit score will soon cease to seem important. Also, youll stop throwing your money away on interest.
Reach Phil Dirkx at email@example.com or 238-2372.