HOUSTON – Nearly half of all Americans could see their credit score increase, due to changes in the way medical debt is reported.
As of July 1, you have more time to pay off your medical debt before it appears on your credit report. And the medical debt you’ve already paid will be wiped off your report, instead of staying there for up to seven years.
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Medical debt is a huge problem. According to LendingTree, 45% of Americans have medical debt or still have the scar on their credit report even though they have paid it off.
Until now, even after paying medical debt, it could stay on your credit report, which could weigh on your score, for up to seven years. This changed on July 1. Paid medical debt is removed from the reports of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experion and TransUnion.
Consumers now have one year, instead of six months, to pay medical debt that has been sent to collections before it even hits your credit report.
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Another big change is coming in the first half of 2023. Credit bureaus will stop reporting debts under $500.
These changes will remove 70% of medical debt from credit reports, credit reporting agencies say, and lift that potential weight off the credit scores of millions of people.
These changes should happen automatically, but you should check your report with all three credit bureaus to make sure all paid medical debts have been removed. You can still get free reports every week until December 31. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
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If a paid medical debt is still on your report, or if a new medical debt is reported within a year, dispute it with the credit bureau. If not resolved, you can contact the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
By the way, you can ask a health care provider to reduce a medical debt that you are struggling to pay. LendingTree reports that 93% of those who ask, get a discount.