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Medical debt can appear on your credit report and affect your score — if you ignore your bills. But there are several steps you can take to make your bills more affordable without impacting your credit rating. And if it’s already on your report, it’s possible to remove it before it disappears in seven years.
Unpaid medical bills can affect your credit by showing up as a negative mark on your report after they go into collections. But they won’t show up immediately after you get a bill you can’t afford.
Generally medical providers are required to wait 180 days before sending an unpaid medical bill over to collections. It shouldn’t appear on your credit report before that time.
Medical debt generally doesn’t hurt your score as much as other types of debt regardless of what type of credit scoring. If it’s low enough, there won’t be any impact at all. The FICO 9 scoring system — which most lenders use to evaluate credit — also doesn’t consider any debt under $100.
This is relatively new. An earlier version of FICO weighed medical debt the same as other debts. After it made the switch to, FICO 9, FICO found that consumers’ credit scores jumped about 25 points.
Unpaid medical bills can stay on your credit report for up to seven years after they were sent to collections. But it can be removed if your debt is paid off by an insurer.
Regardless of who’s at fault, it’ll remain on your credit report for up to seven years if insurance doesn’t pay the bill. But the FICO 9 and VantageScore 3.0 scoring methods disregard paid medical collections debts when calculating scores, regardless of how the debt is settled. That means once it’s paid, it won’t affect your credit score.
Everyone’s entitled to three free credit reports a year by federal law. But if you’ve already used those up, you can check your report with one of the services on the table below. Or, click on the tab Repair your credit to compare services that can help get your score back in top shape.
Taking these steps as soon as you receive a bill can help prevent it from going to collections and hurting your credit.
You can remove debt from your credit report if your insurer pays it off. But you can get it to no longer affect your credit score in some cases if you settle the debt another way. Here are some steps you can take.
If you’ve paid off your debt but it’s still showing up on your report, take these three steps to have it removed:
If your insurance doesn’t cover your bill or you’re having trouble paying out of pocket, resources are available to alleviate your medical debt:
An unplanned medical bill shouldn’t add more stress to your recovery. You have 180 days to manage healthcare debt before it shows up on your credit report. Use the time to contact your insurance company, carefully review itemized bills and reach out to your provider for alternative payment. And go over our guide to handling medical debt for a more in-depth look at your options.
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