New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached an agreement with the three major credit bureaus that will help eliminate stress for consumers burdened by medical debt. The new policy will wait 180 days before adding delinquent medical bills to consumers’ credit reports. This means consumers will have a grace period to navigate through the tangled web of payments and reimbursements. Consumers often endure months of stress, going back and forth with insurance companies and doctors, to determine how much they actually owe.
The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau published a report in December 2014 that revealed many consumers who were behind on paying medical bills showed no other signs of financial distress. The report also revealed that 22% of those consumers have only medical bills showing up as unpaid on their credit reports.
According to the CPFB many of those consumers were unaware of their outstanding medical bills. In some cases, this outstanding debt has been a barrier for consumers applying for a mortgage or even getting a new job.
Although positive changes are being made to assist those with medical debt, consumers still face many problems involving substantial medical debt, including:
- Determining exactly what they owe and to whom they owe it to. Consumers can often accrue multiple bills from a single hospital visit;
- The size of medical bills in comparison to their income and other expenses;
- Medical debt is often unforeseen and therefore many consumers have little savings to deal with the financial impact of such debt.
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