We have previously written about the fact that unpaid medical debt is now the number one reason why Americans file for personal bankruptcy. Overwhelming medical debt can be uniquely frustrating, as it only adds to the stress caused by illness and injury. In order to heal, patients need rest and calm. When debt collectors are calling incessantly, it is difficult to achieve that necessary and healing rest.
Unfortunately, large medical bills can cause more than just stress. Unpaid bills may significantly harm your credit score. If you cannot immediately pay a medical bill, it may be possible to negotiate a payment plan with your hospital or other healthcare provider. However, even repayment plan amounts may be too steep for you to pay. In this scenario, your medical bills may end up in collections. And when that happens, your credit score will almost certainly take a hit.
In addition, research recently released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau indicates that scoring models may currently be disproportionately penalizing individuals who have medical bills in collections. Unlike credit card debt, auto debt and other forms of debt, medical debt in collections are being scored particularly harshly by certain score models designed to predict how likely an individual is to pay back his or her debt.
As a result of this unfair scoring issue, it is particularly important to avoid having overwhelming medical bills land in collections. If you are struggling with medical debt that you can not pay back immediately, please consider contacting an attorney experienced in matters of debt relief who can help guide you through your options.
Source: CNBC.com, "Credit alert! Unpaid medical bills unfairly hurt scores," Herb Weisbaum, May 21, 2014