How to Dispute Medical Bills on Your Credit Report?
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Medical bills can pile up quickly on your credit report, dragging your score down with it. It is no one’s fault that they acquired these costs, but they, unfortunately, have consequences attached if you are unable to pay. If you are looking at how to delete medical collections from credit reports, you may want to attempt to dispute medical bills. It is not the only option, but it may be the quickest way to potentially delete the remark.
Disputing medical bills on credit reports might allow you to boost your score up to where it used to be. This article will go over any information you may need in order to help remove medical collections on credit reports and bring your score back. We will familiarize you with:
- how medical debt can affect your score,
- how long it has the opportunity to last on your report, and
- how to dispute medical collections.
How Medical Collections Affect Your Credit Score
Unlike a bank or credit union, your doctor’s office probably doesn’t have a direct relationship with the three major credit bureaus that collect data and isn’t regularly reporting your payment information. However, after 180 days of unpaid bills, medical debts may show up on your credit score.
Eventually, your medical provider may turn over an unpaid debt to a collections agency. The collector will then contact you and try to get you to pay up. At this point, your unpaid bill is probably showing up on your credit reports as having gone to collections. Failure to pay a bill affects the biggest factor determining your credit scores: payment history. Consequently, having a medical bill in collections can result in serious damage to your credit score. You are always able to try disputing medical collections if you deem it necessary. We will go over this process later in this article.
Remember, just because a collections account is listed on your credit report, it doesn’t necessarily mean the medical bills affect your credit. Newer credit score models, such as VantageScore 3.0 (used by WalletHub) and FICO Score 9, stop considering collections accounts once they’ve been paid off. That’s certainly a good incentive to budget and save if you plan on applying for a loan anytime soon. In this case, you may not have to go to extreme lengths in removing medical bills from your credit report. If your medical debt has already been paid, and you still see the negative remark on your credit report, feel free to contact the major credit bureaus and report this issue. This is an error, and it needs to get fixed right away.
How to Dispute Medical Collections?
If you are wondering how to remove medical collections from your credit report, you have come to the right place. You can remove medical bills in collections from your credit report by filing a dispute if the credit report lists inaccurate information about the collections account. You can do this by negotiating based on privacy infringement (if applicable), or by waiting out the seven-year timeframe.
Disputes are typically only successful if you find that the remark is inaccurate. If you are unsure, you can always request validation of the remark. This means the bureau will have to provide evidence as to why the remark was there in the first place. If the statement is accurate, it will have to remain on your report. Here is a list of steps that might assist in the dispute process.
Review your medical bills for mistakes
Check your credit report and any other related documents so that you can compare the remark to your medical bills. Mistakes happen all the time. You can dispute medical collections if you see an error. You can also contact your insurance provider to confirm the mistake on your report. If you see something that looks inaccurate, take note.
Request proof and gather evidence
If your bill is already paid, you may be able to remove the remark from your report. Collect as much documentation as you can to prove the bill was paid. Ask for payment records from your doctor’s office, find copies of canceled checks or dig up old credit card statements. This way, you have everything that you need to make your dispute. Paid bills that have gone to collections should not continue to be affecting your credit score negatively.
File a dispute
Once you find any discrepancies with the needed documents, you can file a dispute with all major credit bureaus. You can do this by writing a dispute letter for medical collections. There are many templates online that you can use in order to do this. You can mail the letter or submit it online. Once the bureaus have received your medical collection letters, they should respond fairly quickly within 30 days.
Keep in touch
When you figure out how to dispute medical collections, it should be pretty simple from then on. Credit bureaus are required to follow up on your error disputes in a timely manner. If they do not, make sure you continue to communicate with the companies. Answer any questions they may have and provide all needed documents.
File (or threaten) a lawsuit
HIPAA privacy laws prevent debt collectors from obtaining information about your medical conditions; this information isn’t necessary for the debt collection process. If you have reason to believe that the debt collector has access to (or is trying to obtain access to) your medical records, you can use the threat of a lawsuit as a negotiating tool. You might be able to settle your debt for less money and secure the complete removal of the collections record from your credit report. That is a far preferable outcome to even having the collections account listed as paid.
Use a professional credit help company
Disputing medical bills is a lot of hard, time-consuming work. If you are struggling with the process, it is not the worst idea to try receiving help from real professionals. There are credit repair agencies out there that specialize in making your life easier when it comes to credit scores. For example, companies like Lexington Law, The Credit Pros, or Ovation Credit will happily provide you with a representative that can either automate the work for you or guide you through the process. Try them out if all else fails.
Wait it out
If you are not able to dispute the remark, you may want to consider paying off medical debt. After being paid, medical debt will only last on your credit report for up to seven years. If it is still on your report after, you can report it to the credit bureaus.
How Long Do Medical Collections Stay on Your Credit Report?
If you’ve had a recent hospital stay or an unpleasant visit to your doctor, worrying about the credit bureaus is likely the last thing you want to do. But when faced with the choice between charging medical bills onto your credit card or letting them go unpaid, it’s crucial to know what happens to medical debt if you don’t pay it off immediately. Medical debt will generally remain on your credit reports for seven years. However, not all debt is treated the same and there are special rules surrounding medical debt in particular.
Medical debt is not reported to your credit as long as it remains with your original service provider. Before the 180-day period, you will not have unpaid medical bills on your credit report. The moment it goes to collections, you’ll likely see a ding on your score. Before that happens and you have medical debt in collections, you should ask a billing representative at your medical provider’s office about financial aid and/or repayment plans to prevent any negligence from showing up on your credit.
Before choosing to use a credit card to pay your medical bill, make sure you have a plan for repaying the debt after it’s charged. The last thing you want to do is add the pain of medical debt by racking up interest on a credit card. The best thing that you can do is prevent medical bills from surpassing 180 days and try to pay them off as soon as possible.
Medical Bills During COVID-19
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has drawn increasing attention to how staggering medical expenses can be for many Americans. A recent study by FAIR Health found that treatment for an uninsured individual who is hospitalized with Covid-19 could exceed $45,000.
The pandemic is only one small element of the big picture when it comes to health care expenses. As more people grapple with unpaid medical collection on credit reports, hospitals are ramping up their debt collection actions, using the courts and contracted debt collection agencies to track down payments. As Americans return to offices, they will struggle to pay off the debt racked up during the pandemic. State and federal governments are considering how to help Americans handle the financial burdens they could not expect or control.
Medical bills are not fun. They are unexpected and come with a hefty price tag. The journey to dispute hospital bills makes the situation even more difficult than it already was. Making sure you are reviewing your credit report regularly will help you spot any medical debt that has gone to collections or any fraudulent use of your credit.
This way, you can continue to be ready for the process. As time goes by, a medical collection account will have less and less impact on your credit score. Hopefully, you are more informed and are prepared to remove the medical collection from your credit report.