According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau research, there’s $88 billion in medical debt on consumer credit records as of last June. COVID-19 hasn’t helped.
Read on for what consumers should know about changes to how medical collections debt is reported.
CHANGES TO REPORTING PAID DEBTS
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion announced changes to medical debt collection reporting – starting this summer when the bureaus say they will change how they handle paid medical collections debt.
“Currently, once medical debts are paid, they're still on your report for a time, but that's going to change in July. Once you have a medical debt that has been paid off, starting in July, it will come off of your credit report,” explained Sara Rathner with NerdWallet.
MORE TIME FOR CONSUMERS
In another change, consumers will also have up to one year to work with insurance or healthcare providers to pay medical debt before the unpaid debt is reported on their credit file.
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“You might be able to talk down the cost of your bill and that takes time. This gives you more of that time to understand what you truly owe. It could be less, significantly less than what you were originally charged,” Rathner said.
DEBTS LESS THAN $500
In the first half of next year, the credit bureaus say medical debts of less than $500 won’t be included on credit reports.
“If you want to apply for a mortgage in the future, if you think you might have to replace your car and you have to apply for financing, these are all things that can be affected by the information on your credit report,” said Rathner. “It feels really unfair when you have negative information on your credit report simply because you became sick or you got injured.”
In a joint statement, the CEOs of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion said, “Medical collections debt often arises from unforeseen medical circumstances. These changes are another step we’re taking together to help people across the United States focus on their financial and personal wellbeing. As an industry, we remain committed to helping drive fair and affordable access to credit for all consumers.”
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