- 4 min read
How to Keep Medical Debt From Appearing on Your Credit Report
You’re not alone if you have medical debt. According to the Federal Reserve, about 1 in 6 credit reports contain a medical debt collection account! Millions of American consumers say a medical collection harmed their credit score in the last year.
Medical debt’s impact on credit scores is widespread — and unfair according to consumer advocate. Congress is considering changing the way medical debt is reported on credit reports and treated by credit scoring models and the CFPB relased an in-depth study about medical collections.
Delinquencies cause great harm to a consumer’s credit score. Some Congressional representatives are considering changing the law so any medical collections accounts that are paid off, or settled and brought to a $0 balance, will be removed from your credit report.
For consumers with lower credit scores, especially those on the borderline between good and not good credit, a ten- to 22-point difference can affect their interest rates and ability to borrow credit. Over time, a score harmed by a medical collection account could end up costing a consumer tens of thousands of dollars on large loans like home mortgages.
Unsure How to Handle Your Medical Debt?
Let the Bills.com Debt Coach tool give you a customized report on your debt resolution options. It’s free!
Medical debt is different from credit card or other consumer debt because it is usually a result of an unexpected or one-time event, and may be caused by an insurance company not paying a claim in a timely manner. Consumer advocates argue the appearance of a medical debt on a credit report is not predictive of future delinquencies, and therefore should not be reported or scored.
Make the Right Choice for Resolving Your Medical Debt
Read the Bills.com article on how to handle medical bills debt to learn more about your options for resolving medical debt as quickly as possible, and at the lowest cost.
Credit Score & Medical Debt Today
Congress may not agree to change the Fair Credit Reporting Act to help consumers who have a problem with medical debt on their credit reports. Until Congress acts, you need to know you can do today to prevent a medical debt from harming your credit report and credit score?
Help for medical debt
Talk to a Bills.com debt settlement partner to learn your options to resolving your medical debt.
Hospitals and other medical providers usually don’t report delinquent accounts to the consumer credit reporting.
If you take on medical debt and care about your credit report, don’t let the account become so delinquent that the medical provider sends the account to a collection agent.
Debt collectors, on the other hand, usually report your delinquent accounts to the credit bureaus quickly.
You can avoid your medical debt becoming a collections account by negotiating a payment plan with the medical service provider. A payment plan is a great solution because it avoids the debt appearing on your credit report.
Hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical providers are often flexible about working out payment. After all, they want your money, to keep you as a patient, and to avoid sending your account to a collection agent.
Can a Debt Consolidation Loan Help?
If your credit is not excellent, but is improving, and you’re looking for an unsecured loan to consolidate medical debt, speak with one of the consultants at FreedomPlus.
Even a small medical debt left unresolved can spin out of control.
A collections account appearing on your credit report harms your score, but you'll do further, more serious damage, if you end up with a judgment against you for the debt.
If you are sued, try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement to resolve the debt before your case goes to trial. Once a civil judgment appears on your credit report, it will have a strongly negative impact on your credit score.
Bills Action Plan
Medical debt is common today. If you have unpaid medical debt and are concerned about it damaging your credit score, take these three actions:
- Work out a payment plan with the medical service provider
- If the medical debt has already moved to a collection agent, negotiate a settlement to avoid a possible lawsuit
- If you are sued, negotiate an out-of-court settlement to avoid a trial and judgment
Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Housing debt totaled $12.612 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.891 trillion.
A significant percentage of people in the US are struggling with monthly payments and about 26% of households in the United States have debt in collections. According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, the median debt in collections is $1,739. Credit card debt is prevalent and 3% have delinquent or derogatory card debt. The median debt in collections is $422.
The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Ohio, 28% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1369. Medical debt is common and 15% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $607.
Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.