After an accident or unexpected illness, many people are left wondering if medical debt will affect their credit score. When you’re focused on getting well and taking care of your family, the last thing you want to worry about is medical debt on your credit report.
Even if insurance will cover the medical expenses, medical bills on credit reports could show up on your report and hurt your credit score. Unpaid medical debt does affect your credit score, but what about medical debt that’s been paid?
The good news is that as of July 1, 2022, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian are removing cleared medical debts from consumers’ credit reports. Keep reading to learn about the answers to questions about medical debt so that you’re not left wondering, “Do hospital bills affect credit?”
Here’s what you need to know to prepare for medical debt or manage what you already have on your plate.
Can medical bills affect your credit?
The way that medical bills will most likely affect your credit is if they go unpaid for an extended period of time and end up being turned over to collections. That means that if you’ve paid off the medical debt or your insurance has covered it already, you will not see it on your credit report.
Recent legislation has changed how credit reports show medical debt and how hospital bills affect credit reports. This legislation makes it easier for consumers to get ahead of medical bills before they hurt their credit score. All three credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, will not include paid medical debt that was in collections on consumers’ credit reports.
Additionally, you’ll have more time to pay off medical debt before it appears on your credit report. Now, keep in mind that unpaid medical debt that has been in collections for one year will be reported to the credit bureaus.
At that point, you’ll see medical collections on your credit report. It used to be reported after six months, so this gives consumers an extra six months to pay off their medical debt before it starts hurting their credit score.
And finally, from 2023 onward, medical debt under $500 that is in collections will not be reported to credit bureaus. This gives consumers extra time, and if you can get your medical debt under $500 before 2023, it will be cleared from your credit report entirely.
What happens when a medical bill goes to collections?
When a medical debt goes to collections, it means that the debt has been sold to a collections agency, and they are now responsible to collect the debt. The debt collections agency may report the debt to one or more credit bureaus. The debt will only be registered as medical debt on your credit report one year after the account became late.
The purpose of the year-long grace period is to give consumers opportunities to resolve the debt by resolving insurance issues, negotiating a payment plan or paying off the debt. Consumers who have medical debt, even if it’s incorrect, should contact the source of the debt to rectify it as soon as possible.
How to get medicals bill off your credit report
How to dispute a medical bill on a credit report is a matter of persistence and attention to detail. If the bill is less than one year old or if it’s been paid by insurance, it shouldn’t be on your credit report or negatively affect your credit score. If the medical bills on credit reports are still there, you should be able to dispute them with the credit bureau. Here’s how to get medical bills off your credit report.
Double check your credit report
The first step to rectifying your credit report is to know what’s there. Make sure the bill is still mentioned on your credit report. You can access your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Gather relevant documents
You’ll need to assemble proof that you paid your medical bill, this can be through payment records, credit card statements, and more. If the debt was paid by insurance, be sure to include the payment receipt or letter. You can also ask for payment records from your doctor’s office, get copies of checks or proof of deposit. The more clear documentation you have, the better to clear medical debt on your credit report.
File a dispute
You will file a dispute with any of the three credit bureaus that are reporting the medical bills on credit reports. Be sure to check all three credit bureaus so you don’t get the debt wiped from one credit bureau only to find it still being reported on another! AnnualCreditReport.com is giving everyone free weekly reports through December 2023.
Legislation is in your favor to an extent. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus are required to follow up on credit reporting errors and disputes. Keep the channels of communication open to keep the dispute on the table.
Be ready to provide any additional documentation needed. Keep following up until the medical bills on your credit reports are resolved!
What do I do if my medical bill was wrongfully sent to collections?
If your medical bill was wrongly sent to collections, you can dispute it with both the debt collections agency and the credit bureaus. When you receive a collections notice, you should contact them and provide the requested documentation to clear the debt. When cleared, that will also remove the medical bills on credit reports.
41% of adults, about 100 million Americans, are affected by medical debt ranging from $500 to more than $10,000. If you find yourself faced with medical debt you are not alone. You are also not without recourse.
If insurance doesn’t cover the debt, you can try negotiating with your medical provider and working out a payment plan to clear the debt.
The answer to the question of, “Does medical debt affect your credit score?” is not a straightforward yes or no. New legislation also gives you more time to pay off debt before it shows up on your credit report. With attention and follow-up, you have a better chance than ever before to pay off medical debt and clear it from your credit report.
Do unpaid medical bills affect your credit?
Yes, unpaid medical bills will affect your credit score, but only after it has been in collections for a year. You have a year after the debt is overdue to pay it before medical debt appears on your credit report.
What happens if the medical bill goes to collections?
When a medical bill goes to collections the collections agency will contact you about paying the debt or working out a payment plan. After a year if still unpaid, you’ll see the medical bills on credit reports.
Why did my medical bill go to collections if I have insurance?
Insurance doesn’t cover every procedure. Consumers need to carefully read the fine print of coverage policies on insurance. If your insurance did not cover the medical procedure, you will be responsible for the debt. If it remains unpaid, it will go to medical collections and appear on your credit report.