Medical Collections – The Credit Score Killer
Making on-time payments, enacting a debt management strategy so that you don’t owe more than 30 percent of your total credit limit, and having a variety of different types of credit are all things that you can do to ensure a good, healthy credit score. But one common credit score killer is medical bills – and many times, your score could suffer due to a misunderstanding with your insurance or your doctor, potentially docking you big points for something that isn’t necessarily your fault. Other times, your score could suffer because you simply just can’t afford the cost.
In fact, medical bills that go to collections are treated the same way as any other type of bill that goes to collections in the FICO score formula. Analysts say that just one medical bill that has gone to collections could drop your credit score by 100 points, thereby forcing you to enact a lengthy credit repair strategy to bring the score back up over time.
So what can you do to ensure that a bill doesn’t go to collections? Here’s a look at some credit tips:
- Understand your insurance: Many medical bills go to collections because people can’t afford to pay them. One way to better plan and prepare for potential medical costs is to know and understand your insurance plan. For instance, does it cover wellness visits? What’s the deductible? Will you have to pay money out-of-pocket after you meet the deductible? Knowing all these things can better help you prepare in the event of a surgical procedure or emergency rather than take a “wait and see” approach for when the bill arrives.
- Go on a payment plan: Surgeries, procedures and hospital stays can all add up. And many people can’t afford to pay the total bill in full right away. Check with the hospital to see if you can go on a payment plan to make regular installments toward the bill. Many hospitals won’t charge any interest as long as the balance is paid within a year or two. Others may allow you to finance bills.
- Keep records: Be sure to retain all your medical bills and check your credit report regularly to watch for inaccuracies. It’s estimated that four out of every five credit reports have errors in them, so if your report doesn’t line up with your personal records, take action to have any discrepancies removed from your report. Otherwise, you could have to repair credit for nothing.
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