Are you in collections?
Is your medical bill past due or in collections? The reasons for your situation can vary from you could not afford it and your other bills to you just overlooked it. No matter the actions that led to the delinquent account, it’s stressful. The worst thing you can do is to continue to avoid it – unpaid bills can ruin your credit and could lead to a lawsuit.
Our credit score and report is a guide for banks and other lend institutions to determine the risk of letting us borrow money. If we fail to pay our bills, our risk goes up and our score goes down. In fact, your score can drop more than 50 points for a single collection on your credit report. This means you may not be able to get a loan for a vehicle, a mortgage for a home, or in instances where a potential employer does a credit check – they may not wish to employ you.
Once your bill has gone to a collection agency, it’s important to know that you have rights, and if the collections letter is new (less than 30 days) you may still have time before it’s reported to the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). Collection agencies are hired by hospitals, doctors and other medical facilities to collect as much of the debt as possible. The agencies receive a portion of the debt they collect. That’s why they pester you so much.
Verify the Debt
What if the debt is not yours? If you are certain that the debt does not belong to you. You can write a certified debt validation letter to the collection agency. This action is protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). You can download a sample letter below.
If the debt is unpaid with the original creditor and is valid, give the hospital or medical provider a call. There are resources available through payment plans and charity care that can help you to reduce or resolve your medical bills. See our article “Have Medical Bills?” to learn more.
If the debt is in collections and is valid, the best action you can take is to negotiate a lump sum payment. You can reduce your balance owed by up to 50%. See “How to Negotiate a Hospital Bill” to learn how. Making a payment plan with a collection agency increases your cost and could result in a lawsuit if not paid off in the time allotted.
Manage your Medical Bills
Want to know more? Get my FREE e-book! 7 Proven Ways to Manage Medical Bills can help you to prepare, organize, track and negotiate your medical costs. It also offers tips about setting up payments, monitoring and finding more money to pay your bills. Click here to download!