Do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit Score? 

Everyone deals with medical bills at some point, even those with good private insurance. The amounts could be anything from a simple $10 copay for a doctor’s visit to several thousand dollars in hospital charges. In extreme situations, patients are forced to take out emergency loans to pay these bills upfront. 

Most doctors and hospitals don’t check your credit score, and medical bill payments are not reported to the three credit bureaus. This means that while they can’t be used to build credit, you won’t be on the credit bureaus’ radar if your payments run late. Credit reporting will come into play if your account goes to collections. 

Typically, the account won’t go to collections until you’re at least ninety days behind. This could happen regardless of the size of the medical bill. That annoying phone call you keep getting on an unpaid copay should not be ignored because collection actions on your credit report affect your credit score. 

The credit bureaus provide a 365-day waiting period to resolve a medical debt before the collection account appears in your credit history so that medical bills won’t impact your credit score right away. This happens because medical bills are a unique type of debt, whereby you may have to wait months for your insurance company to approve and issue payment to the health care provider. However, quick action is one of the most effective ways to prevent a medical bill from damaging your credit.

Credit report and credit score: Know the difference

Ask about payment plans and financial assistance 

Dealing proactively with medical bills is one of the best ways to get some financial relief. You can ask your medical provider if they offer payment plans if you cannot pay your medical bills all at once. If your provider does not do this directly, there may be agencies or non-profit groups that can work with you. 

If you can’t get assistance from your medical provider, you may want to consider a personal loan to pay off your medical bills and maybe a few of your credit cards while you’re at it. There are banks and online lenders that specialize in these types of loans. Speak with the billing department at the hospital or doctor’s office before you do this. They may have some alternative suggestions for you.    

Don’t ignore collection calls

There are two types of collection calls for medical bills. The first type comes from the medical provider. They’ll start calling when the medical bill becomes overdue and continue to call until it’s paid or sent to a collection agency. You’ll want to pick up the phone and discuss or make payment arrangements before that happens. At that point, things could get more complicated.

The phone calls may stop for a while after the bill goes to a bill collector, but don’t get too comfortable. You’ll likely receive a letter or email from the collection agency and the calls will start again. Don’t ignore them if you can’t afford to pay. Medical bills don’t just go away if you ignore them. Collection calls that go unanswered or unresolved can end up in legal action. 

Now is a good time to review your medical insurance    

Medical bills often come as a surprise to patients who thought they were covered for certain services. Now that you know how those bills can affect your credit, it’s important to review your medical insurance policy. This should be a regular activity, particularly as you get older or if you change jobs. The best way to avoid high medical bills is by having good insurance. It can be expensive, but it’s worth it when you need it.  


Notice: Information provided in this article is for information purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views of Founder’s Guide or its employees. Please consult your financial advisor about your financial circumstances and options. This site may receive compensation from advertisers for links to third-party websites.

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