A serious illness or an injury can disrupt your life in many ways. You need to recover, and you may be overwhelmed for a moment as you struggle to get back on your feet. There is a strong chance your finances will be impacted too. If an unpaid medical bill finds its way into your credit report, your credit score too could be impacted for years.
So, how does an unpaid medical bill end up in your credit report in the first place?
Effective September 15, 2017, there is a 180-day grace period before an unsettled medical debt can appear in an individual’s credit report. Eventually, your healthcare provider may report unpaid debt to the collection agency. The collector will then reach out to you to pay up the debt. At this point, your unpaid medical bill will probably appear in your report as having gone to the collector.
How to keep your medical bill from appearing on your credit report
If you want to try to keep medical debt from damaging your credit, here are some options:
1. Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t
If you are not certain the procedure you are about to undergo is covered or not, or the extent of cover, be sure to consult your insurance company before the appointment to find out how much you will pay out of pocket. This will save you from unpleasant surprises.
2. Try to negotiate your medical bill or a payment plan
If you have no cover at all, or your policy will not cover a particular procedure, you should consider negotiating the cost or the payment plan before checking in for the treatment. If the cost is too high, find out if your healthcare provider can give you a longer period to pay for the procedure.
3. Look out for suspicious behaviors on your credit report
Always keep an eye on your credit report. And if you notice a bill for a medical procedure you never underwent, consider disputing the charges so they can be expunged from your report.
Millions of Americans struggle with medical debt. If you have a medical debt that is weighing on your mind and aren’t sure how to settle it, consider engaging an experienced medical billing attorney. This professional will sort through your bill and help you understand your rights, obligations, and options.