Disputing and Removing Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
You may have worked hard to get a good credit score by diligently making payments on time, choosing the best credit card for your financial plan, and managing a budget. However, an unexpected accident or a medical emergency that sent you to the hospital with surprising ambulance charges can quickly add up and take a toll on your hard-earned credit, even if you have gainful employment and health insurance.
Once you’ve repaired your body, it may be time to think about fixing your credit score. Here’s how you can get medical bills off of your credit history, and restore your credit to good health.
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How Medical Bills Affect Your Credit Score
Making timely payments on your debt is a big deal when it comes to your financial health. Overall, 35% of your credit score comes from making payments on time and keeping your debt out of collections. So if you start to miss payments and let your debt slip out of your control, that’s over a third of your credit score that could be affected.
As with any late payments, overdue payments on your medical bills will affect your credit score more or less depending on how long it’s been since you last made a payment and the size of the debt that you’re late on. This means that letting overdue payments rack up can be highly detrimental to your credit — the longer you hold off, the more your credit may be damaged.
Unexpected medical bills can lead to undisputable late payments. If possible, it is best to plan for life’s financial emergencies ahead of time. The Medical Debt Relief Act requires a 180-day waiting period before medical debt can be reported to a consumer’s credit report, so being financially prepared to make payments as soon as possible ahead of time can help keep your credit safe from unexpected debts.
One of the worst things that can happen with an overdue payment is for that debt to be sent to a collections agency. A collection notice appears on your credit history on top of all the late payment notices that you’ve already had, dropping your credit score even further.
How to Remove Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
The first step to repairing your credit after getting hit with severe medical debt is to get that debt paid off. After seven years, any collections notices will be removed from your credit report — that includes collections notices for your medical bill.
There are a couple of options that you have when it comes to paying off your medical debt, but there are also some things that you can do to remove collections notices from your credit history before the seven-year limit.
Dispute Your Medical Bills
The first thing to do is to gather your medical information, ask for proof of your debts, check for mistakes, and file a dispute with the credit bureaus to remove inaccurate information. If your medical provider messes up on your bill, you don’t necessarily have to pay for services that you didn’t receive.
Request an itemized bill if you think you’re being charged too much, and make sure that you actually got all of the medical services that you’re being made to pay for. If you notice any mistakes, then you can dispute your medical bill and bring the debt down to a more manageable level.
Negotiate a Settlement on Your Medical Bills
If your medical debts are accurate and you’re not able to pay off your medical debt in full, then it may be possible to negotiate a settlement. At the end of the day, the hospital wants to get paid, so they might be willing to accept a portion of the overall debt that you can guarantee them, rather than gambling on your ability to pay up in full. You may also be able to negotiate an alternative payment plan that works better for you, with monthly payments that you’ll be able to make month over month.
Apply for Financial Assistance
Paying off expensive hospital bills can be incredibly difficult — especially if you’re still recovering from whatever put you into the hospital in the first place. Consider hiring a billing advocate or consider crowdfunding your medical bill. Many altruistic people recognize the difficulty of paying off medical debts and have created charities to help you with medical debt. Contacting these charities may be your key to becoming debt-free.
Seek Professional Credit Repair Help
You’ve already sought expert help from a doctor for your physical health, so why not turn to professionals when it comes to your financial health as well? A good credit repair company can assist you with getting your credit score back on track after missing payments on your medical bills. Just as it is with physical illness and doctors, it’s okay to reach out when it comes to fixing your credit score.
Medical debt doesn’t have to leave your credit in the dumps. Find ways of paying off your medical bills or getting them written off entirely. In time, your credit score will heal as well.
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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.