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How to Keep Medical Collections Off Your Credit Report

Last Updated: March 30, 2017

Collections of any sort on your credit report don't look good, and can do long-term damage, but medical collections can be particularly harmful. The possibility of removing them isn't as straight-forward as the debt validation process that works so well for credit card collections. Once it's on your report as in collection status, medical debt is probably there to stay for a good seven years, even if you manage to pay it off before then. Bottom line, the best way to keep medical collections off your credit report is to find a workable way to pay the debt via some sort of compromise with your medical providers.

Is It Possible to Negotiate Medical Bills With Hospitals and Doctors?

Yes, but you want to do so immediately, as soon as you receive the medical bill in the mail. Contact the billing department and explain to them you would like to settle the bill but you cannot afford to do so at the full billed amount. Start by asking for a discount, which can prove to be a particularly successful tactic if you are able to offer to pay the full discounted amount immediately. It has been shown that forty percent of people who ask medical providers for discounts receive them. However, if you are unable to secure a discount, ask for a payment plan, which you are more than likely to receive.

When is Medical Debt Turned Over to Collection Agencies?

Typically, hospitals and physician groups turn your debt over to a collection agency 60 to 90 days after the debt is past due.

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How Long Do Medical Debt Collections Stay On My Credit Report?

Medical debt may stay on your credit report for as long as seven years, even after they are paid in full. It is the most common collection item on credit reports, with paid-off listings currently staining the credit of more than three million Americans. What's especially heartbreaking about this statistic is that most of these collection items are for debt not much more than a couple of hundred dollars. Good news is the newest scoring model, FICO 9, will weigh medical bills in collections less heavily than other types of unpaid accounts.

Can I Remove a Medical Collection Listing Via Debt Validation?

While you can certainly try, debt validation rarely works in this case, as collectors keep much better records for medical collections than credit card debt, for example. In other words, collectors likely have all the documentation they need to prove you owe the debt, including the original creditor, debt amount, etc. For this reason, it is imperative that you deal with medical debt before it goes to collections. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at how helpful medical providers can be about working with you for a resolution, which ultimately serves the best interest of all involved.

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