A reader runs into a problem with a medical bill that was sent to collections before she could pay it. Is there any way she can get it removed?
Was just looking through information on checking credit and came across your article on how to build credit if new to the U.S. I am a student, and house hunting and most landlords want me to run a credit check.
I have a medical bill that went to collection last year, through no fault of mine. I don’t live here and they refused to let anyone else deal with the account, and I didn’t get the bills till early January of this year. That said, I contacted them immediately and found out it had already gone into collections and made plans to pay it off. I currently have only $75 outstanding on it.
I am here almost every year and it’s not the first time I’ve been to the hospital but always got the bill on time before I left and always settled it promptly.
No one really wants a long winded-story about my side of it all, so how can I make this all go away? Will it show up if my credit is checked? I don’t have a Social Security Number and never have.
[Related Article: Could A Medical Collection Account Keep You From Getting A Mortgage?]
Since you don’t have a Social Security Number, I doubt the credit reporting agencies can produce credit reports about you. Have you tried checking your credit with the three major credit agencies through AnnualCredit.com? My guess is you’ll be told no information can be found.
You do raise a larger issue, however, and that is the problem of consumers finding out about medical bills after they have been sent to collections—when the damage is already done. This is not uncommon, and medical collection accounts can damage the credit scores of even the most responsible consumers.
If this collection account does appear on your credit reports, however, your credit scores would be negatively impacted and you could find yourself having trouble renting a home or apartment or getting credit. There’s no surefire way to remove accurate but negative information, though some consumers have found that when they dispute older collection accounts, they are not verified, and are removed from their credit reports as a result.
Your story is just one of many I’ve heard about medical billing problems that wind up in collections, and it’s an example of why I am a fan of the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2011, which would require credit reporting agencies to remove medical bills of $2500 or more if they’ve been paid or settled.
Image: brykmantra, via Flickr.com