Are medical bills killing your credit score?

April 3, 2012 3:51:47 PM PDT
Are medical bills killing your credit score? It turns out medical bills get reported to credit rating bureaus faster than typical debt.

Sometimes those bills can lower your score, even if you pay them off. Medical bills can and do impact credit scores. Many people do not even realize there is a problem with a medical bill on their credit report until they buy a house or refinance.

Lwanda Mikulenka knows what it's like to get an unexpected medical bill, after suffering an accident at home last year.

She said, "I got a bill for the ambulance, even though I didn't go anywhere. I refused service from them and they still sent me a bill and I called them five months later and said, 'Why am I getting a bill for an ambulance I never used?'"

Mikulenka says that bill is taken care of by insurance, but financial experts say if there is an issue, that bill could be turned over to collections and ultimately could end up hurting Mikulenka's credit score. And she is not alone.

Tanisha Warner with Money Management International explained, "A lot of people do not know that medical debt is debt that can hurt your credit."

Warner says medical bills are fast becoming major factors in credit scorers.

"A lot of people are finding themselves in really hard times as it relates to their credit score, because of the medical issues," Warner said.

Warner says medical bills generally get sent to a collections agency faster than typical bills.

She added, "You could actually go to the doctor and 30 days later or 60 days later you could find this is impacting your credit score."

The impact can be huge.

Steven Kaufman with Zeus Mortgage said, "When you are talking about a $200,000 loan, over 30 years, the dollar amount becomes significant."

Kaufman says families with lower credit scores can end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more due to higher interest rates. He also says many borrowers now have credit scores lowered by medical bills, even if they were paid.

Consumers who find medical billing errors on their credit report should send letters explaining the problem directly to the credit reporting bureaus.

"When someone pulls your credit report, they get your score plus this explanation, so it is worth explaining," Warner said.

The first step is to check your credit report, which you can do for free by visiting the website AnnualCreditReport.com.


Load Comments