Summary: This article will show you how to delete medical bills from your credit report.
- How Do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit Score?
- How to Remove Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
- What Happens When a Medical Bill Goes to Collections?
- How to Negotiate Medical Bills
- How Long Do Medical Collections Stay On Your Credit Report
- How to Avoid Letting Medical Bills Go to Collections
- Bottom Line
How Do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit Score?
Unpaid medical bills affect your credit score the same way any collection account will. A collection account on your credit report can lower your credit score significantly —up to 100 points.
Ultimately, the credit score drop you will see depends on what your credit score was prior to the medical collections. The higher your credit score, the more it will drop when a negative item is reported.
For example, a credit score of 780 could drop to 680 if you get a medical collection. However, if your credit score is 650, it might only drop to 620.
Another important thing to understand is that paid medical collections will have just as much as a negative impact as unpaid medical collections. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to pay a collection agency without negotiating first. Regardless of what they say, your credit score will not improve if you pay the medical debt. A collection is a collection.
The good news is that it is possible to remove medical collections from your credit report.
Keeping reading to find out how.
How to Remove Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
You have a decision to make when it comes to how to delete medical collections from your credit report.
You can use the do-it-yourself multi-step solution below (which will take some time) or you can hire a professional to help you deal with the medical debt.
It really depends on how much work you’re willing to put into the process, and of course, what your timeline looks like. If you’re trying to get approved for a loan, such a mortgage, it might be worthwhile to consider hiring a professional.
Let’s get into the steps for how to delete medical collections from credit report.
1. Write a Debt Validation Letter
The first method I recommend is validating the medical debt. In order to do this you will need to send a “debt validation” letter to the collection agency.
A debt validation letter will basically demand that the debt collector verify that the medical debt they are attempting to collect on is indeed yours, and the amount they are trying to collect is correct.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you only have 30 days to send a debt validation letter from the initial date that the collection agency contacted you.
Once you have sent the debt validation letter, you should expect an answer within 30 days. If you don’t receive an answer, send another letter demanding that the medical collections are removed from your credit report.
Many times a debt collector will be unable to validate that the debt is yours because they have lack of documentation. However, the success of this method generally depends on how old the medical bill is. That is, the older the debt, the more likely that documentation is available to the debt collection agency.
2. Negotiate Pay For Delete
When the collections agency is able to validate the medical debt, your next course of action should be contacting the debt collectors and attempting to negotiate a “pay for delete“. Basically, this means that you need to be willing to pay the medical bill either partially or in-full.
In exchange, the collections agency must be willing to remove the medical bill from your credit history. In addition to getting this agreement in writing, they also need to be willing to update all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
This method will only work if you’re willing to negotiate with the collection agencies. And again, don’t make any deals over the phone. You should have everything in writing, either snail mail or e-mail.
As the same with the Debt Validation Method, Pay-For-Delete will be more successful if the medical bill is older. When the medical debt is rather recent, the debt collector will be less likely to accept less than what’s due.
3. Write an Advanced Dispute Letter
When you’re unable or unwilling to negotiate “pay-for-delete”, you can attempt to dispute the medical debt with the credit bureaus. For this we will use what’s called the “Advanced Dispute Method”.
This method works best with unpaid medical bills that have been on your credit report for some time.
First, you will need a current copy of your credit report from the credit bureaus. Once you have your credit reports, find the medical debt and look over every detail listed on the credit report. You need to try and find any inaccuracies. The smallest inaccurate detail can be disputed.
Here are a few details to check for accuracy:
- Date opened / closed
- Account number
- Account status
- Payment History
- Payment Status
- High Balance
If you’re able to find any inaccurate details on your credit report, you can dispute the medical bills with the credit bureaus. Disputing negative and inaccurate information on your credit report is pretty straight forward. You can dispute online, but I recommend that you dispute medical bills with a snail mail dispute letter.
When you mail a dispute letter, it will tend to get more attention, because the online dispute tools are largely automated.
The credit bureau has 30 days to respond to your dispute. You can expect one of three outcomes:
- The medical debt collections are removed from your credit report.
- The inaccurate information is corrected.
- The debt collection is verified as correct and nothing happens.
Of course, any outcome other than the collection being removed won’t do you much good.
4. Hire a Professional to Remove the Medical Collection
When you have tried all the other methods, or you simply don’t want to deal with it, you have the option of hiring a credit repair company to help you remove the medical bills from your credit report.
This is a good option if you’re in a rush, or don’t feel like dealing with creditors and collection agencies. Since they have tons of experience dealing with both collection agencies and the credit bureau, using this option will likely lead to the most successful outcome.
For this, I recommend Lexington Law. They are the biggest credit repair company in the country, and do a great job. You can call them at 1-844-331-6062 or read my review of their service.
What Happens When a Medical Bill Goes to Collections?
An unpaid medical bill will generally go to collections from your medical provider after 90 days of non-payment. At this point, you usually have 30-60 days to pay the collection agency before a collection account is added to your credit report.
Once the collection account is added to your credit report, you will see it negatively affect your credit score. Again, your credit score could drop up to 100 points from a single unpaid medical bill.
Therefore, if at all possible, it’s best to deal with the medical provider directly, but this has to happen before 90 days and it’s sent to collections.
How to Negotiate Medical Bills
Sometimes it’s possible to negotiate your medical debts. The best way to do this is to find mistakes on the actual bill. It’s not uncommon for medical bills to have mistakes. It’s really a matter of doing due diligence.
You might have to work directly with not only the medical providers, but also your health insurance company to verify that everything on the bill is correct.
This can take some time, but never just blindly pay a bill: always verify.
How Long Do Medical Collections Stay On Your Credit Report
Most negative items, including medical collections, can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. Luckily, the older the medical collection, the less of an impact it will have on your credit report. Therefore, newer medical collections are the ones you really need to deal with.
That said, it’s a good idea to try and delete medical collections from your credit reports no matter the age.
How to Avoid Letting Medical Bills Go to Collections
It’s been my experience that medical providers (and the insurance company) aren’t always the best at notifying you that you have unpaid medical bills. Many times they will just send it to collections without warning you first.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to really pay attention and keep up on your medical bills. It’s up to you to pay your bills, because again, they won’t always notify you of late payments.
30% of Americans have medical debt. Much of this medical debt has already gone to collections, and therefore had a negative impact on the patient’s credit score.
Many people don’t realize that you can remove medical bills from your credit report. You can achieve this with the do-it-yourself methods outlined above, or go with a credit repair company.
Either way, it’s worth the hassle simply because these medical collections can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. This has a real affect on your ability to get credit in the future, including a mortgage.