Large, budget busting surprises can sneak upon the most responsible, hardest working consumer. One of the most disastrous of these is an unforeseen illness that racks up tons of medical debt.
Even with health insurance, a prolonged hospital stay or extensive treatment can leave a consumer with tens of thousands of dollars of medical debt that they have no clue how to pay.
In The Huffington Post article, Top 10 Reasons People Go Bankrupt, medical expenses was listed as the number 1 reason, claiming they account for around 62% of personal bankruptcies in the United States.
If you are concerned about medical debt wreaking havoc on your financial stability, as well as your credit, you are smart to be concerned. While none of us can guarantee we will never deal with a serious illness or medical debt, there are steps we can take to stop medical bills from destroying our credit.
First, face what you owe.
It’s emotionally draining to deal with crushing debt, but necessary. Sticking your head in the sand and vowing to worry about it later gets you in deeper trouble.
This is especially true with medical debt, because most medical providers do not report to the credit bureaus. Only when the debt is turned over to a collection agency will it end up as a negative factor on your credit report.
Remember, you are not alone in dealing with this issue. A recent CFPB study found that 19.5% of credit reports have a medical collection.
After a hospital stay or extensive illness, keep a complete folder with every medical invoice you receive, and a running balance of what you owe and all payments made. Add to this folder as you speak with your creditors, including documentation on the date you spoke, the conversation, and the person you spoke with. Staying on top of your medical bills, no matter how huge and intimidating they are, is paramount if you want to avoid big credit problems.