Medical bills have a way of sneaking up on you. Even expected medical expenses can get out of hand. If you can’t pay what you owe, you may find yourself with a damaged credit score. Fortunately, there are ways to dispute the medical bills on your credit report.
Medical Bills You Can Dispute
As of September 2017, only medical bills more than 180 days late may be reported to the credit bureau. Check your credit report for the accuracy of this information. If you find medical bills reported to the bureaus sooner than the 180 days, you can dispute the charge with the credit bureau.
You’ll need to know which credit bureau is reporting the information – Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union. You must then file the dispute directly with that bureau. You must file a dispute for each incorrect account separately. You must also dispute each account with each credit bureau separately (if they all report it).
Disputing Other Medical Bills
If you have other reasons to dispute medical bills aside from early reporting, your dispute must be in writing. As we stated above, you must contact the appropriate agency. For example, if you have an issue on your Trans Union credit report, you must write to Trans Union. In your dispute, include:
- Your full name as it reports on your credit report
- Date of birth and social security number
- Current address
You’ll also need to provide a copy of your driver’s license and a copy of a recent bill with your name and address. In the letter, you must state which account you are disputing. Provide as much information about the account as you can including the account numbers and the reasons you are disputing the account.
Along with your letter, include any proof that you have for the dispute. For example, if you have proof of payment, such as a receipt or canceled check, include a copy of it. If insurance paid the bill, include the information you have from the insurance company. You can also include any documentation you’ve received from the doctor’s office itself.
Pay for Delete Medical Bills
Even if you pay your medical bills, if they landed on your credit report, they will remain there. That’s why some people just don’t pay the bills. Others, however, pay the bills in exchange for a ‘pay for delete.’
Pay for delete is just how it sounds. You agree to pay the bill in exchange for the credit bureau removing the debt from your credit report. Make sure you get the agreement in writing before you pay.
Once you do pay the bill, you must dispute the bill with the credit bureau, using the method described above. The credit bureau will then have 30 days to contact the collection agency reporting the debt. If the collection agency doesn’t respond to the inquiry, the credit bureau must delete the debt from your credit report.
Before you agree to a ‘pay for delete,’ make sure you have all of the details. Never agree to anything verbally. There’s no proof of the agreement this way. The creditor could deny agreeing to delete the account from your credit report upon full payment. Then you’re out the money and your credit score still suffers. Also, make sure the amount you agree to pay is clear. If the creditor agrees to a lesser amount, get it in writing. Credit bureaus only mark accounts paid in full when you pay the amount stated. If any other amount is agreed upon – get proof.
Keep a Paper Trail
Make sure you always keep a paper trail of what is going on. Any conversations you have with your insurance company should be tracked too. Ask for all information in writing. This way if you have to dispute the account with the credit bureaus, you have proof of what you state. Credit bureaus can’t just take your word for what’s going on – they need solid proof.
Insurance companies and medical billing offices can provide you with the paperwork if you don’t have it. Always ask for proof of what’s going on and ask it to be mailed or emailed to you. Keep a separate folder for your medical bills and carefully track how they get reported on your credit report.
Disputing medical bills on your credit report is possible and it may even increase your credit score. Keep careful track of what gets disputed on your credit report and dispute anything that is incorrect or shouldn’t be reported.