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Mortgage rates » 2015 » February

Surging medical debt is trashing the credit score of millions – What to do to pay it off?

Do you have bill in collections that is drastically dragging down your credit score? If answered yes, then chances are high that it’s medical debt. According to a report by the CFPB or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 43 million Americans have unpaid medical debt on their credit reports, thereby amounting to about 1 in 5 credit reports. The financial bureau is now concerned about the rising concern of surging medial debt as a burden among the consumers and the negative effect that is being created on the credit scores of the consumers. The CFPB also introduced some new reporting rules that could easily make it possible to spot errors in your credit report.

It has been seen that medical bills account for about 53% of all overdue debt that shows up on the credit reports of the consumers. Many of such consumers could have otherwise been called credit worthy but it has been found out that for 15 million people, medical debt is the only debt that they have in the debt collection agencies and hence it is the only debt that hurts their score badly.

The widespread medical debt woes

Often times it is seen that patients start a treatment with the assistance of the in-network doctors according to their medical insurance policy agreement but at the end of the treatment, they’re given out astounding bills from an out-of-network doctor that the hospital tacked in at the last minute. Practices like these account for the widespread medical debt woes among the Americans. Studies reveal that roughly 45% of Americans owe money to the debt collectors for times they were sick. Most US adults are more likely to struggle to repay their medical debt or to let go of medical care due to the cost.

In fact, as per a financial advice company, Nerd Wallet, it has been found out that medical bankruptcy is the primary cause of personal bankruptcy within the US. So, it can be easily concluded that medical treatment is the main reason behind so many broke Americans. Most of them pay 3-times more on medical debt than what they pay on bank and credit card debt combined. Nearly a sixth of us will get calls from the medical debt collectors in 2015 and they will in turn collect $23 billion from us.

Vital tips to pay off your unpaid medical bills

If you’re someone who has been hit by outrageous medical bills, your first thought should be to reach out to your wallet and pull out your credit card. But experts recommend against this habit. All the savvy consumers should rather start comparison shopping for different payments options. Here are some helpful tips to cope up with hefty medical bills.

  1. Try negotiating: Everything can be negotiated and by effective negotiation, you can get a portion of your medical bill reduced. A hospital bill usually includes items for medication, anesthesiology, surgery, X-rays and various other expenses. Try to talk to each of the service providers to check if they could reduce the bills.
  2. Look for different payment plans: If you’re unable to pay off the entire balance at once, try and work out a payment plan with the doctor. While some may charge you no interest, others may. However, ensure that the plan is realistic and is totally based on your ability to pay. Stick to the plan.
  3. Don’t ignore collection agency calls: In case your account has been turned down to a collection agency, don’t ignore them. Dodging a debt collector will make things worse. Even when you can’t pay, just call them and say that you can’t pay. As long as you’re in touch with them, they won’t think that you’re avoiding them.
  4. Opt for debt consolidation: Medical debt is an unsecured debt and hence it can be consolidated through credit debt consolidation. Get in touch with a lender who will lend you the loan at a low rate and then use the proceeds to repay your medical debt. Once you’re done, start repaying the debt consolidation loan.
  5. Start following a budget: Getting over medical bills once, doesn’t mean that you’re done with it forever. If you wish to avoid such monetary issues in the long run, start following a budget now. Devise a budget according to your income and expenses and follow it without fail. Experts advise having at least 3-6 months living expenses ready.

So, if you’re trapped in the cycle of medical debt, take into account the above mentioned solutions. Remember that medical debt is a burden for many and hence it is best when it is paid off. Get help from professional advisors if you’re not confident working on your own.