- For Patients
- by Parasail Health
How Do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit?
Have you ever wondered, “do unpaid medical bills affect your credit?” The simple answer to this question is “yes.” Unpaid medical bills can negatively impact your credit rating for years after your hospital stay or an expensive procedure. Yes, you read that correctly. A medical bill, no matter how small the amount, can haunt your credit score even a decade later, whether it was mailed directly to you or an old address. Speaking from experience, if you’ve moved in the last year, you’ll want to do two things:
- Call any physicians or specialists you’ve visited over the past year to make sure your new address is saved in their database. That way, if you have any outstanding medical bills they can send them to your new address.
- Be sure to set up mail forwarding through the US Post Office. It literally only costs a couple bucks and it will save you the worry of missing bills that impact your credit score.
There are many consequences of not paying medical bills, but with the right resources you can protect yourself.
When you miss a payment on your credit card, one of the major credit bureaus gets notified right away due to their relationship with your bank or credit union. Medical providers on the other hand, don’t report your payment information to a collections agency until your bills go unpaid. Anytime you are sent to collections, even if you pay right away, your credit score will be negatively affected. The best way to get your credit score back up is to continue paying other bills on time and making sure your credit card balance stays low or is paid off in full each month.
Of course, billing companies do sometimes make mistakes. If your credit report has been impacted by a bill going to collections by accident, there are actions you can take to fix it. First, make sure you gather as much documentation as possible related to the bill. Be sure to make copies of everything along with a letter disputing the charge. Once you send all of the documentation to the credit bureaus, be sure to stay on top of it. Keep open lines of communication with the bureaus so you are aware of your claim’s status so you are able to catch any snags in the process.