If you don’t pay your medical bills, they could become a collection on your credit report. This doesn’t happen instantly, but after 90 to 180 days of non-payment, medical providers are likely to sell your debt to a collection agency. Typically, this gets reported on your credit report as a collection, which could hurt your credit score and your chances of getting new credit moving forward.
With today’s new credit scoring models, medical collections hurt your credit score less than it did in the past, but it can damage your score. Certain credit score models put less emphasis on these debts, meaning they won’t drag your credit score down as much, but they still have an impact if they are there.
Luckily, there are several ways you can get the medical debt off your credit report.
Determine if It’s Valid
First, make sure the collection is even valid. Humans make mistakes, which could mean you don’t even owe the debt. Ask the credit bureau for information regarding the collection, such as who is reporting it. You can then contact that company to get more details on the debt. Hopefully, you have documentation from the debt when it occurred and what you actually owe.
For example, did you have medical insurance at the time? Is the charge something your insurance would have covered, but the medical provider didn’t submit it? Did the medical provider code the services correctly? These are things you need to figure out before you assume the collection is valid. Sometimes it’s an error on the part of the medical provider that causes the issues. You may not have owed the debt in the first place, but with the mishaps, it now becomes your collection.
A few questions to ask of the collection agency include:
- What’s the name of the medical provider that provided the services?
- What’s the date of the service?
This will help you know which insurance documents and medical bills you need to find in order to determine if the collection is valid.
Dispute Wrong Information
If you find that the medical collection isn’t valid, it’s time to dispute it with the credit bureaus reporting it. This is a formal process, which you must follow carefully if you want the collection to go away.
First, you must make the request in writing. You should provide as many details as possible. Include the reasons you feel that the collection is not valid and provide any supporting documentation that you have. If you have a copy of the medical bill, send it along with the proof that your insurance would pay the bill or any other reason you feel that it’s not a valid collection.
If you already paid the bill and believe the collection is in error, provide the canceled check or proof that you paid it with your credit card statement. Make sure the credit bureau can tell the date which you paid it and that it is for the exact amount of the collection.
Wait for the Collection to Fall Off Your Credit Report
If you have exhausted all options of getting the medical collection off your credit report, you may want to just wait for it to fall off. Each state has a statute of limitations that companies must follow. Once the collection or debt gets to be a certain age, it must fall off your credit report. This may or may not mean that you are still liable for the debt – it depends on the laws in your state.
In some cases, collection agencies can still come after you legally. You’ll want to know the liability you may face even after the collection falls off your credit report so that you know how to proceed. Keep in mind, though, if you do anything to bring the collection ‘back to life’ it will reset the clock. This means if you talk to the collection agency about the debt or if you make any type of payment on it, the clock starts over and it looks like a ‘current collection’ on your credit report.
Disputing medical collections on your credit report is quite the process. Don’t expect to have an answer or for things to change overnight. It will take time and plenty of follow up to get it done. If you are diligent in your efforts, though, you can get the collection off your report in an effort to get the new credit that you need.Click to See the Latest Mortgage Rates»