Do Medical Debt Collection Accounts Hurt My Credit Score?

28 Oct Do Medical Debt Collection Accounts Hurt My Credit Score?

There are a number of sites on the internet (which I shall not link to in the interest of public education) which are completely wrong in stating that medical debt collection does not affect your credit score.

Medical debt which has gone to collection is a debt which has gone to a debt collector and is scored the same way (and looked at the same way) by potential creditors.

Scoring is what potential creditors look at — the most common one is the FICO score.  FICO is the Fair Issac Corporation, which created the FICO score.

At myfico.com, an explanation is provided as to how the scoring is done:

How is my score calculated?

-35% affects Payment History. Meaning any lates; collections; charge offs; bankruptcies; judgments; liens or the such will hurt the score. All is time based, the older the information the less it is contributing to the scores.

-30% affects Utilization. It is best to have several accounts with low balances distributed then it is to have fewer accounts maxed out. To figure utilization: Balance (divided) by Credit Limit = percentage. Lower than 10% recommended per account, this is one of the fastest means for increasing the over all credit score.

-15% affects Established History. The longer you maintain open accounts with creditors the better. When first starting out of course this is not easy; but this is where getting added as an Authorized User to another persons established credit comes in best. Remember that the contributor must have an account that has long history; clean payment record; high credit limit; and low balance. Also need to check with the creditor to insure that they have a policy to report authorized user accounts to all three major credit reporting agencies.

Collection is collection, period.   Note that nothing in the above says there is an exception for Dr. Dental’s bill long overdue and unpaid.  Medical debts which have gone to collection affect your credit score.   Sometimes local lenders may overlook these accounts but national credit cards are going to offer you higher interest rate once Dr. Dental’s bill has gone to the debt collector.

Not only does a long overdue medical debt affect your credit, it may also some day affect your ability to get medical treatment, as discussed on this site previously by Kevin Gipson and Wendell Sherk.

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I'm a consumer protection lawyer in Oregon, working with people in Klamath; Lake; Jackson; Josephine; Curry; and Deschutes County. I speak regularly on bankruptcy and consumer protection issues nationwide.
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