Rep. Miller Introduces Bill to Ensure Consumers Have Time to Settle Medical Debt Before It Impacts Their Credit Scores

Washington, May 24, 2013 -

Every year, families in San Bernardino County and across the country are hit with confusing and costly medical bills. While the personal and financial toll of dealing with a medical emergency or serious illness is tough enough, our nation’s complex and broken healthcare system frequently inflicts additional pain on these families by reporting unpaid medical debt to the credit bureaus, even if they never knew the debt existed or are disputing the bill.

Minor billing and processing errors for medical services can have major consequences for your ability to access affordable credit. Unpaid medical debt that is reported to credit bureaus – regardless of whether it is under $100, erroneous, or disputed – can shave up to 100 points off your credit score. This means you can be denied access to credit or be forced to pay higher interest rates and fees when you seek to buy or refinance a home or purchase a new car. 

This week, I was proud to introduce legislation that will ensure consumers have time to resolve medical billing questions and potential errors before medical debt can be reported to the major credit bureaus. Specifically the legislation would delay the ability of a debt collector to report medical debt to a credit bureau if the consumer notifies the debt collector that they did not know the debt existed, are continuing to work with an insurance company to resolve the issue, or have applied for financial assistance.

This common sense proposal will help to ensure that your access to credit will not be impacted because of a medical billing error, a slow insurance company, or simply because you have sought financial assistance to settle the debt. With our economy still recovering, it is critical that creditworthy consumers are able to access the financing they need to enter the housing market, refinance their homes, or access other credit-based products and services.

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