Are you facing medical debt? You’re not alone if so. According to a report from NPR, approximately 100 million people in the United States have medical debt. That same report reveals that, per data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, medical debt accounts for about 58% of debt in collections for United States citizens.
That said, knowing there are others in a position similar to your own may not change the fact that living with medical debt can cause stress. While you work towards paying off your debt, you may wonder how long it will stay on your credit report if it gets sent to collections.
How Medical Debt Impacts Your Credit
Medical debt is very difficult to prepare for, as injuries and illness can strike without warning. Thus, when someone faces mostly medical bills, they may struggle to pay them. The medical professional or facility to which they owe money may send their bills to collections if they can’t pay within a reasonable timeframe.
A person’s credit score will usually drop when this happens. How long medical debt may remain on a credit report could depend on certain factors.
The Rules for Medical Debt on a Credit Report
Per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, most debt can stay on a credit report for a maximum of seven years. However, medical debt is somewhat unique when compared to other forms of debt in this regard.
The major credit reporting agencies in the country all entered into the National Consumer Assistance Plan in 2015. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the provisions of this plan is that medical debt that’s in collections will not show up on a credit report until 180 days after it is past due.
In 2022, the credit reporting agencies announced they would jointly expand the 180-day waiting period to one year. Perhaps more importantly, they also indicated that once medical debt is paid off, it will no longer remain on a consumer credit report. This means that, even if medical debt is currently on your credit report, if you’re able to pay it off, it shouldn’t continue negatively affecting your credit in the long run.
Avoiding Medical Debt’s Negative Impact on Your Credit
There are various steps one can take to minimize the odds of medical debt negatively affecting their credit to begin with. They include the following:
- Thoroughly checking all medical bills for any errors
- Communicating with healthcare providers to discuss payment options if one is unable to immediately pay a medical bill in full
- Communicating with one’s insurance company if it appears they aren’t processing a claim as efficiently as necessary
Most importantly, no one should ever ignore these circumstances. Get into the habit of consistently monitoring your credit report, particularly if you’ve received medical treatment for which you have not paid in the recent past.
Additionally, armed with the knowledge that medical debt won’t remain on your credit report after you pay what you owe, you should make a genuine attempt to pay your bills if you can.
Medical debt on your credit report may be a frustrating source of worry. That doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way.
Debt Legal Defense is a San Antonio, Texas law firm offering clients protection against debt collectors. The firm often represents clients struggling due to medical debt.