May 17, 2016

Experian deleted my medical collection. Now it’s back. What do I do?

Experian deleted my medical collection and now its back

It’s a situation that’s all too familiar for many individuals plagued by medical debt. You have medical debt that went into collections. You were unable to come to a payment agreement with the collection agency and you did not pay the bill. Much to your delight, you find that the account now appears on your credit account as “charged off.” The phone calls from collection agencies stop and you think you’re in the clear. However, months or even years later, you get a call about the very debt that originally was labeled, charged off. Now what do you do?

Experian deleted a medical collection. Now it's back. what do I do?

 

Understanding how medical debt is reported on your credit history.

A brief lesson on the workings of Experian debt reporting can help in the understanding of medical collections on your credit report. For starters, medical debt does in fact affect your credit score. Many people think that medical debt is protected information as a result of HIPAA laws and therefore won’t be reported on your credit. This is not true. Instead, the debt appears on your credit report as “medical collection” but does not show the type of facility or name of the institution you are in debt to, therefore remaining in compliance with HIPAA regulations. A personalized report ordered from Experian can give you the information on the name of the facility you are in debt to.

 

What “Charged Off” really means.

Debt that has been “charged off” on your account is another term for debt that was not paid within 180 days and does not contain a reasonable expectation of being collected. That said, charged off debt, including medical debt, appears on your credit score for seven years, and technically can be reopened at any time within that seven-year period. Traditionally, this means that a collection agency has purchased the debt from the original holder for pennies on the dollar. This agency then has the right to collect said debt, and goes after the individual who owes the debt for payment. The intent is to come to an arrangement with the individual who owes the debt for an amount less than originally owed but more than the agency purchased the debt from, therefore making the agency a profit. The most important part to understand in this process is that charged off debt will negatively affect your credit history until it has been paid off or seven years have passed.

 

Next Steps

Charged off medical debt that has been re-opened should be treated as any other initial medical debt. Ask yourself the important questions including:

Was the debt accurately coded?

Were you overcharged?

Are there opportunities for cost savings based on deductible analysis?

These questions will help you determine if the original debt was in fact valid. Medical billing advocates can help assist with this process. Most individuals do not have access to the code and back-end information to determine if the charges were valid, which is why working with a professional often is your best bet.

For starters, you’ll need a copy of your original bill. Your Experian report should give you the name of the facility you owe the debt to; contact the facility directly and request a current statement of your bill. Once you have this information, a simply consult with a medical billing advocate can save you big money. For example, Dispute Bills has a 70 percent success rate in reducing medical bills with an average turnaround time of just two weeks.

 

Impact on your credit score.

Working with a medical billing advocate avoids the collection agency and settles the debt directly with the original facility. But most importantly, it changes your credit report from a debt marked as charged off to a debt marked “closed” or “paid.” A closed debt is a debt that is considered in final status, which may or may not have been paid. A paid debt is just that, paid in full. While a paid debt is the best case scenario for your credit score, a closed debt cannot be reopened, giving you peace of mind that the same debt will not come back to haunt you.

In the end, working with a medical billing advocate can help you avoid major headache and can save your credit score. Medical billing advocates act as the middle man, advocating on your behalf for the best case scenario, all while working within the parameters of your budget.

Katie Shaykin
About the Author
Katie Shaykin

Katie Shaykin is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience writing for the healthcare industry. Shaykin earned her ungraduated degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Illinois State University and spent six years in Corporate America, writing for two industry-leading healthcare and healthcare technology companies.