Most Medical Debt No Longer on Credit Reports
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), approximately 1 in 5 U.S. households have medical debt. This debt can add pressure to an already stressful financial situation. Not to mention, medical bills might be difficult to understand, billed incorrectly and sometimes easily misplaced amongst other bills. Unpaid medical bills can also lead to collections, which lowers credit scores and makes future debt more expensive and harder to pay off faster.
The good news is that most unpaid health care bills will no longer show up on credit reports, which will not negatively affect your credit score as a result. Hooray!
New Policies Regarding Medical Debt and Credit Reports
Starting July 1, 2022:
- All paid medical collections will be removed from your credit report with all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
- Unpaid medical bills will not be reported until 12 months have passed (previously only six months).
- By June 30, 2023, all unpaid medical debts under $500 will stop being reported altogether.
Tips for Managing Medical Debt
With these changes in mind, here are five helpful tips when working with medical bills:
- Organize the mail. Keep all medical bills in one spot. Highlight or circle the billing office number and account number. Keep the most current bill and throw away duplicates.
- Review bill for accuracy. Ask for an itemized bill as needed. Contact your health insurance company (when applicable) if something was not covered. Dispute any mistakes found.
- Ask about financial assistance. Check with each billing office to see if you qualify for assistance (also called community or charity care), especially if income has been reduced. You might need to fill out a separate application and provide any needed documentation.
- Set up payment arrangements. Get a written agreement with the billing office, and make sure the payments are realistic and affordable. Keep proof of all payments for your records. For each new bill, you will need to call and make new arrangements.
- Avoid using credit cards. It may be tempting to pay off the medical debt with a credit card. However, most payment arrangements made with medical providers are interest-free!
Are you currently in Minnesota and uninsured? If so, you can get FREE help from a MNsure-certified navigator. They work for trusted community organizations and can help with applications for private coverage through the health insurance marketplace or help with enrollment in the state’s Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs. To find a navigator in other states, go to the federal Healthcare.gov website.
Feeling overwhelmed with medical bills, along with other debt? LSS Financial Counseling has trusted, nonjudgmental budget and debt counselors who will work with you to manage your debt and create workable budgets. Call 888.577.2227, or get your support online.
Author Kim Miller is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.