Do Medical Bills Affect Credit?

Updated on March 12, 2024

After requiring medical treatment, you might be shocked to get a medical bill that costs more than you expected. But that’s not where your worries stop – you may also wonder if your credit will be affected by this bill. So, do medical bills affect credit? You will find out the answer by reading this article.

How Do Medical Bills Get on Your Credit Report?

First of all, let’s answer the big question: do medical bills affect your credit? Well, they can affect it, and that’s what makes things even worse, on top of having to pay the bill itself. But getting a medical bill will not instantly show on your credit report, so they will not affect your score in that regard. So, how do medical bills even get on your credit report?

Medical bills will only show up on your credit report and affect your credit in case a collection agency has to step in. This happens when a person doesn’t pay the bill, and it becomes past due. At one point, your health care provider is going to give up on trying to obtain the debt from you. Instead, they sell it to a collection agency, which will try to reach you to receive the payment.

So, let’s say you visited the dentist, and you didn’t manage to pay the bill yet. If you wait too long to pay the bill, then your doctor will have no choice but to turn it over to a collections agency. Once this happens, the agency will do its best to contact you. The unpaid bill will also show up on your credit report, which is what is going to affect it in the end.

Another thing you should be aware of is the fact that the type of scoring model used by the creditor is what is going to influence the extent to which your debt will affect your credit. For instance, FICO 8 will have a record of all collections. Even if you paid off the charge, it may still show up on your credit report that the bill went to collections beforehand.

What makes this even worse is that it can take up to seven years until your collections account will stop showing on your credit report. FICO 8 is the scoring model used by a lot of lenders. FICO 9 is also an available scoring model that is less harsh on medical debt. However, it is not as used as FICO 8.

When Will Medical Bills Show Up on Your Credit Report?

This is a tricky situation because the bill becomes past due depending on the particular health care provider. For example, some will only wait around 60 days, while others can wait 90 days and others go as far as to wait 180 days. But once this period passes, they will turn the debt over to collections.

Overall, the major credit reporting agencies will have to allow about 180 days of waiting period to add the medical debt to someone’s credit report. Having TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax doing this will give people more time to deal with their medical bills, especially if they have to pay a significant amount of money.

How Long Do Medical Collections Stay on Your Credit Report?

You can expect an unpaid medical bill to remain on your credit report for seven years. This can have a huge impact on your credit score. Basically, the payment history is one of the biggest influences on your credit score. It makes up for 35% of your score. As such, you can expect your credit score to take a blow if you don’t pay your medical bills on time.

The costs for health care have grown during recent years, so it’s harder for people to deal with the amounts. On top of that, the pressure makes things even worse, particularly for those who care about their credit history a lot.

As mentioned earlier, though, different lenders and banks rely on different scoring models. Some will settle for FICO 8, whereas others may settle for FICO 9. You will not know which one of the scoring models are used, though, so it’s hard to know how much your medical bills are going to affect your credit in the long run.

If you don’t want your medical bills to destroy your credit score, it’s a must to find ways to pay your medical bills and prevent ruining your creditworthiness.

How to Keep Medical Bills off Your Credit Report

Luckily, there are a few ways you can use to keep your medical bills off your credit report. Here are a few things that you can do.

Always Monitor Your Bills

No matter what, you should always read whatever your health care provider sends you. This includes emails, letters, or anything of the sort. Doing this will make sure you’re up to date with your bills, which means you can start planning your payments. Furthermore, you can also notice potential mistakes, after which you can contact your provider and let them know that something should be fixed.

There are also situations when you went to a doctor and received treatment or had a procedure, yet you received no bill. Therefore, it’s important to contact the health care provider in this situation so you don’t end up missing your bill.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Before doing anything, you should carefully look into your health insurance plan and see what it covers. It will also tell you how much you will have to pay for visiting the doctor, going through a procedure, or receiving treatment. Once you know what to expect, it’s less likely for the medical bill to be a shock for you. You’ll be able to prepare in advance, way before you step into your doctor’s cabinet. Having the money ready will prevent you from missing a bill, which will then prevent your credit from being affected.

It’s also important to find out how much you’re going to be charged if you don’t have insurance, or if your insurance does not cover the procedure or visit.

Analyze the Charges

Medical insurers and offices can make mistakes now and then. But someone else’s mistake may affect you if you don’t find out about it on time, and you may be charged incorrectly. This is why you have to look into every medical bill and see whether the charges are accurate or not.

In case there are any mistakes, you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible. The same goes for the health insurance company. They should know about the situation. Also, ask for internalized bills after a procedure or after you have been hospitalized. This will let you check for any mistakes.


So, do medical bills affect credit? They certainly do if you don’t pay them on time. So, you should always make sure you have the money ready for a medical bill, and also check bills for any mistakes that charge you inaccurately. Otherwise, you’ll have to suffer, as your credit score will be affected for a long period.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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