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How do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit?

Getting sick or injured may prevent you from going to work and performing other important activities.  Whether it’s a broken bone or pneumonia, you need to get that checked out and treated.

Many people have medical insurance, which can be helpful in offsetting some of the costs of treatment. But what happens when your deductible is met? Will your medical bills affect your credit?

Or do you only have a certain percentage of coverage left on your plan before it starts covering 100%? Then you’re responsible for the costs involved.

Paying off medical bills Without Insurance: Will it Affect Credit?

Even if you don’t have insurance coverage, there are ways to pay for these bills, so they don’t impact credit ratings. You just have to know how much is owed and where exactly the money should go.

In this article, we’ll go over the different methods for paying off medical bills, how to make sure they don’t affect your credit score, and what to do if you are already in this situation.

What happens when medical bills hit your credit report?

Medical bills are one of the top reasons why people have issues with their credit scores. If unpaid or paid late, these can appear on your report and put you in a lower financial standing than other consumers who might be paying on time every month.

Since insurance coverage often doesn’t cover all expenses, it leads to high balances that need to get paid right away.

Without proper funds available or enough money saved up after insurance has covered its part, many people turn to installment plans to get the payment plan they need.

If the credit company doesn’t accept these plans or deems them unacceptable, then you need to try other options.

When does medical debt get reported to credit bureaus?

Typically, medical bills are reported anywhere from 30 days to up to two years after they’re issued. This timeframe is based on the collection process of the particular medical facility that needs to get its money back.

Anything under 180 days typically means that this debt was recently incurred and will be applied towards your next billing cycle. Delinquencies beyond 180 days might impact your score, so it’s important to act quickly if this happens.

What can hurt my credit score? : Medical Bills

There are many different ways in which unpaid medical bills can affect your credit report and overall rating. Late payments, delinquencies, and even collections can be reported on a consumer’s credit history.

While this is typically only included as part of your general credit report, sometimes medical bills will also show up on your TransUnion or Equifax scores.

How do I pay off my medical bills?

Don’t just think that you have to go through the hospital if you want relief from these costs. There are many different places where you can get help with paying off your medical debt, so it doesn’t affect your financial standing anymore.

If you’ve already received a letter in the mail from a collection agency, there might be some other options available for repayment plans.

The key is being proactive, so interest rates don’t take over and overwhelm you by the time payment is actually due.

Get in touch with the hospital

Contact the hospital or doctor’s office directly about payment options. If they cooperate, you can make monthly installments until all costs are repaid. Keep in mind that this probably won’t affect your credit score unless it shows up as ‘paid late.’

Find a medical billing advocate

If you don’t want to work with the hospital directly, then consider finding an outside organization that offers medical billing advocates.

These professionals might be able to negotiate installment plans or even reduce interest rates so that there is an easier way of repayment available.

Get an extra job

Many people just need a little time to get back on their feet after something like this happens to their health. For them, an option might be working with a temporary agency to find employment and pay off these debts in the meantime.

What can I do if medical bills already hurt my credit score?

If your credit report is already showing that unpaid medical bills are negatively impacting you, then there may be some different routes to take when talking with creditors.

  • Since many of these debts are reported in collections, you’re going to want to work directly with the person who’s trying to reach you about repayment. Sometimes they will lower or change interest rates so that it’s more manageable for you.
  • Another option is seeing what kind of settlement amounts the medical collection agencies will accept in exchange for removing their information from your credit history. While this isn’t typically advised, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures when trying to save your financial future.
  • If you can find an organization that specializes in medical billing advocacy, they might be able to help negotiate on your behalf and work out more manageable repayment plans. This is a route that usually requires another fee but it could save you money in the long run.

How do I avoid this problem in the future?

No one wants to have their credit score or report tied to negative information, so now is the time to think about how you can prevent this from happening again.

  • The best way to avoid being affected by unpaid medical bills is by being proactive. Ask what kind of payment options are available to you before any procedures are performed, or treatments are administered. Be clear about your financial situation so no mistakes are made that will later have to be repaid.
  • You may also want to consider working with a medical billing advocate if things aren’t being offered to you upfront. They can help you find the best way of protecting your credit score so that you don’t have any surprises down the road.
  • Another option is signing on for a medical bill monitoring service. This means that every account will be reviewed on a regular basis, and any discrepancies might be highlighted before they turn into major problems for your financial situation.
  • Most importantly, you should always pay attention to your bills and try to stay abreast of changes in this area, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re directly affecting you right now. Once something does come up, make sure you take care of it as soon as possible so that your credit score isn’t negatively impacted by what could have been prevented.

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