Some Good News for People With Medical Debt

Healthcare is expensive and patients sometimes end up with medical bills they cannot pay. Last year, 20% of Americans under 65 experienced difficulty paying their medical bills despite actually being insured. The majority of those — 63% — depleted their savings to cover their healthcare costs.

Medical debt is actually the top reason why American adults file for bankruptcy. But The Motley Fool has some good news:

It’s therefore encouraging to hear that come September 2017, consumers who are forced to take on medical debt won’t have their credit damaged nearly as much.

Beginning on Sept. 15, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — the country’s major credit bureaus — will establish a 180-day waiting period before including medical debt on consumers’ credit reports. The purpose of this is to give patients time to sort out medical disputes with insurance companies and providers, which often result in credit-zapping payment delays. Additionally, the three bureaus will begin removing medical debt from consumers’ histories once it’s paid by insurers.

The goal driving these changes is to protect consumers who are unexpectedly find themselves in debt from healthcare costs. If you can’t pay your medical bills, your credit score can take a pummeling and that means your cost of borrowing for a home mortgage or car loan also increases.