How to dispute a medical bill debt on your credit report

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How to dispute a medical bill debt on your credit report
2 years ago
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You don't feel well and take a trip to your doctor's office, presenting your health insurance card and paying your co-pay. Your doctor looks you over and sends you down to the lab and to x-ray for some tests. Fortunately, everything comes back fine and in no time at all you are well again. Unfortunately, you later receive a bill from your doctor's office with a note saying that the insurance company has not paid for the tests the doctor ordered. You are surprised and think your insurance company will pay it eventually as they have always done. But this doesn't happen and pretty soon your doctor's billing department is sending you warnings about sending you to collections. You call your insurance company and explain the situation. They say they will research everything and get back to you. Before they call you back, you receive notice from a collection agency and when you check your credit report, you notice you now have a ?śding??on your overall score. Now what? Obviously this was the insurance company's mistake. Why should you have to suffer for it?

The proactive answer is this: The best way to keep a medical bill from impacting your credit score is to resolve it before it goes to collections. You may feel it is unfair for you to pay a doctor's bill that is the insurance company's responsibility, but the effect of not paying it is potentially much worse than the amount you are being asked to pay. In these tight economic times, lenders are becoming even stricter about credit scores, often requiring scores above 740 to issue loans or credit cards.

To keep an unpaid medical bill from going to collections, talk to your doctor's billing department and explain that you are waiting on the insurance company and for them to put the bill into dispute. This should keep the bill in limbo while you battle it out with the insurance company. If you just take it for granted that the insurance company will pay it (often the claim is rejected because the insurance company feels it was billed for unnecessary testing) and don't make arrangements with the medical billing office, eventually their system will kick it over to a collections agency and after a period of time, the unpaid bill will be reported to your credit agency.

Once this happens, it will be much more difficult to rectify. You will have to contact the credit agency and initiate a dispute. You can do this in writing, over the phone, or online. You will need proof that the insurance company was supposed to pay the bill. This will require some documentation from the insurance company saying that they agree to this and that plans are underway to pay the doctor for the procedure. If the insurance company refuses to pay for the testing saying that it was not covered by your health plan, you will have to work with the doctor's office to resolve the issue. In either case, you will need documentation to give to the credit agency with as much detailed information as possible?”times, dates, people you spoke to at your doctor's office and health insurance company, a copy of the relevant sections in your health insurance manual?”anything that will strengthen your case for correcting the inaccurate information. The credit agency is required to open an investigation within 30 days of your request, according to FCRA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Once you have all your documentation in order, call or write to the credit agencies that have the inaccurate information on your credit report. Below are the addresses and phone numbers of the three major credit bureaus. You can also file a dispute online at each credit agency's web site.

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, Texas 75013

Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
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