HOUSTON - Nearly half of all Americans could get a boost to their credit scores, due to changes in the way medical debt is reported.
As of July 1, you now get more time to pay medical debt before it appears on your credit report. And medical debt you've already paid will be wiped off your report, instead of sitting there for up to seven years.
Medical debt is a huge problem. 45% of Americans either have medical debt or still have the scar on their credit report even though they paid it off, according to LendingTree.
Until now, even after medical debt was paid, it could sit on your credit report, potentially weighing down your score, for up to seven years. That changed July 1. Paid medical debt is being removed from reports at all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion.
Consumers now have a year, increased from six months, to pay medical debt that's been sent to collections before it even hits your credit report.
One more big change comes in the first half of 2023. Credit bureaus will stop reporting debts under $500.
These changes will remove 70% of medical debt from credit reports, say the credit agencies, and lift that potential weight off millions of people's credit scores.
These changes should happen automatically, but you should check your report at all three credit bureaus to make sure any paid medical debts have been removed. You can still get free reports weekly through December 31. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
If a paid medical debt is still on your report, or a new medical debt is reported sooner than a year, dispute it with the credit bureau. If it's not fixed, you can reach out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
By the way, you can ask a medical provider to reduce a medical debt you're struggling to pay. LendingTree reports 93% of those who ask, get a reduction.