Your Guide to Removing Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
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If you’ve been in an unexpected accident or a medical emergency has sent you to the hospital with surprising ambulance charges, then you should know that it’s not just your body that’s ill. Unpaid medical debt from expensive hospital visits can also leave your credit score in poor health. Once you’ve repaired your body, it’s time to think about fixing your credit score as well. Here’s how you can get medical bills off of your credit history, and restore your credit to good health.
How Medical Bills On Your Credit Report Affect Your Credit Score
Making timely payments on your debt is a big deal when it comes to your financial health. Overall, 35 percent 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 potentially go down the drain.
As with any late payments, overdue payments on your medical bills will affect your credit score more or less depending on (a) how long it’s been since you last made a payment and (b) the size of the debt that you’re late on. This means that letting overdue payments rack up is one of the worst things that you can do for your credit — the longer you hold off, the worse off things are going to be.
Finally, 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 lay payment notices that you’ve already had, dropping your credit score even further.
Removing 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 collection notices will be removed from your credit report — that includes collection notices for your medical bill. There are a couple 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 collection notices from your credit history before the seven year limit. Let’s discuss some of these options.
Dispute Your Medical Bills
Sometimes hospitals make mistakes. 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 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. Many altruistic people recognize this 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.
This post was updated February 13, 2018. It was originally published January 8, 2018.