Can Medical Bills Affect Your Credit Score ?

  • Posted on: 23 Apr 2024
    can medical bills affect your credit score

  • Medical emergencies are stressful enough without worrying about the financial burden they leave behind. Unexpected medical bills can be a significant strain on your wallet, and if left unpaid, they can also wreak havoc on your credit score. Understanding how medical debt impacts your credit health is crucial for taking control of your finances and protecting your future.

    Here's a breakdown of how medical bills can affect your credit score, along with steps you can take to minimize the damage:

    The Silent Threat: Unpaid Medical Bills and Collections

    The good news is that directly from your healthcare provider, medical bills typically don't get reported to the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) unless they remain unpaid for a significant amount of time. This waiting period can vary depending on the provider, but it often falls within the 60-120-day range.

    However, if the bill goes unpaid after this grace period, your healthcare provider may sell the debt collection agency. This is where the trouble begins. Collection agencies are in the business of recouping money, and they will report unpaid medical debt to credit bureaus. Once this happens, your credit score can take a significant hit.

    Why Collections Hurt Your Credit Score:

    Collection accounts are a major red flag to lenders. They signal a history of missed payments and financial irresponsibility. Here's how unpaid medical collections can damage your credit score:

    Negative Marks: Collection entries can stay on your credit report for up to seven years after they become delinquent, significantly impacting your creditworthiness.

    Lower Scores: Unpaid medical collections can bring down your credit score by a substantial amount, making it harder to qualify for loans, credit cards, and even affordable housing.

    Higher Interest Rates: Even if you eventually pay the debt, a history of collections can lead to higher interest rates on future loans, costing you more money in the long run.

    Positive Developments: New Rules on Medical Debt Reporting

    There's some good news on the horizon! In recent years, there have been positive changes regarding medical debt and credit reporting:

    Extended Waiting Period: Credit bureaus are now required to wait one year before including medical debt in collections on your credit report. This gives you more time to resolve the issue with your provider or insurance company.

    Medical Debt Exclusion: As of July 2022, paid medical debt is no longer included on your credit report. This means that once you've settled the bill, it won't negatively affect your credit score.

    Smaller Debt Exclusion: Additionally, medical debts under $500 are no longer reported to credit bureaus, even if they remain unpaid.
    Taking Charge of Your Medical Debt and Credit Health:

    Don't wait for medical bills to become a collection nightmare and damage your credit score. Here are some proactive steps you can take:

    Review and Verify Bills: Always scrutinize your medical bills for accuracy. Errors are more common than you think. Contact your provider and insurance company to rectify any discrepancies.

    Communicate and Negotiate: If you're struggling to pay a medical bill, don't be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider's billing department. Explain your situation and explore payment plan options. You might be surprised at their willingness to work with you.

    Seek Financial Assistance: Many hospitals and healthcare providers offer financial assistance programs for low-income patients. Don't hesitate to inquire about these options.

    Consider Medical Credit Cards: Some medical providers offer special financing options through medical credit cards. These cards can help manage large medical bills, but use them responsibly and make timely payments to avoid accruing interest charges.

    Work with a Credit Repair Company: If you're dealing with collections or a damaged credit score due to medical debt, consider partnering with a reputable credit repair company like Credit Repair Ease. They can help you navigate the complexities of credit reporting, dispute inaccurate information, and develop a personalized strategy to improve your credit score.

    Remember, medical debt doesn't have to control your financial future. By being proactive, managing your bills effectively, and seeking help when needed, you can minimize the impact on your credit score and achieve your financial goals.

    Call (888) 803-7889 to know more about your credit score now!