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Equifax, Experian, TransUnion overhauling how medical debt affects your credit

Credit repair expert urges consumers to be proactive
Posted at 3:53 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 17:20:39-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The three largest credit bureaus announced this week that they'll be overhauling how medical debt affects your credit, eliminating debt that's already been paid from your credit report.  

"They pay $10 a month on a bill for years to get it paid off, so why shouldn't they be credited for that," Penny Crane, a dialysis nurse in West Palm Beach, said.  

Crane told Contact 5 that those medical bills, which are often sent to collections, frequently haunt her patients.  

"They've paid them, and they bring in all this paperwork," Crane said.  

Penny Crane, dialysis nurse discusses medical debt
Penny Crane, a dialysis nurse, outlines how medical debt can impact patients for years.

Now, Crane is in the same situation.  

"I received a bill today from a local hospital for my husband, and we paid the entire bill back in 2019, and they're now telling us we owe another $1,347," Crane said. "It is from a bureau, a collection bureau."  

Stories like that are now prompting Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three largest credit bureaus, to make big changes in an effort to help consumers.  

"If you have a bill from a doctor or hospital that goes into collections and you ultimately pay it, in the past, it could stay on your credit report for up to seven years," Paul Oster, a credit repair expert with Better Qualified, said.  

As of July 1, that's no longer the case.  

Oster said medical debt will now be removed from your credit report as soon as it's paid.  

Paul Oster, credit repair expert with Better Qualified
Paul Oster outlines what consumers need to know about the changes to medical debt.

Right now, consumers only have six months until their unpaid bills are sent to collections. That also will soon be changing. 

"Moving forward, early part of next year, we're going to have a year, 12 months, to try and figure it out," Oster said. "A lot of times, consumers are fighting with the companies, the medical billing companies, doctors and hospitals, and they're sick by the way while they're trying to do this. So, this is a really great thing for consumers."

Oster says consumers have to be proactive about this. You can go to annualcreditreport.com and keep track of what's on your credit report.  

If you think you've ever had a medical collection that you've paid, that should be coming off your report. Oster said you might have to call the credit bureaus if it's still showing up.  

"I hope that it helps everybody because we deserve all the breaks we can get," Crane said.

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