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From the Experts at

How Medical Debt Can Impact Your Credit Score

by Lucy Lazarony

How Medical Debt Can Impact Your Credit Score

When it comes to your credit score, an unpaid medical bill is just as damaging as any other unpaid debt on your credit report.

Medical bills don’t generally show up on your credit report unless the bills have been sent to collection agencies. So it’s not your doctor or hospital reporting an unpaid or forgotten medical expense on your credit report, it is the collection agency they use when a patient fails to make timely payments on a medical billing.

An unpaid medical bill for a doctor’s visit, hospital stay or medical emergency could really hurt your credit score if you fail to pay the account and the account is turned over to a collection agency.

Your credit score could also really plummet if an enormous unpaid medical bill forces you to declare bankruptcy. Even something as simple as an unpaid $15 co-pay could trip up your credit score once it gets turned over to a collection agency.

If you are having credit trouble because of medical bills, you are hardly alone.

The Burdens of Medical Debt

According to a 2010 study from the Commonwealth Fund, two of five of adults age 19 to 64 — 73 million people — reported some type of problem with medical bills, such as having difficulty paying their medical bills, being contacted by a collection agency over unpaid bills, and having to make a change in lifestyle in order to pay their bills.

Negotiating a hospital bill is one way to keep a medical debt from spiraling out of control and wreaking havoc on your credit.

This guide from reveals tips and strategies for solving a variety of medical billing problems, including billing errors.

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  • Meet Our Expert

    lucy_lazarony GravatarLucy Lazarony is a freelance personal finance writer. Her articles have been featured on Bankrate, MoneyRates, MSN Money, and The National Endowment for Financial Education. Prior to freelancing, she worked as a staff writer for Bankrate for seven years. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent a summer as an international intern at Richmond, The American International University in London. She lives in South Florida.
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