Many mainstream media outlets from across the country have picked up the announcement from the three major credit reporting agencies about the changes that they are making to how medical debts are going to be reported on consumers’ credit histories. This is likely to lead to a lot of publicity for medical debt collection in the short-term, as well as when these changes start to take effect.
Companies in the accounts receivable management industry might want to have some answers ready in case they are called by a local television station or newspaper seeking comment about what these changes mean for consumers and for medical debt collection.
There are still more questions than answers at this point, but hopefully that will change soon. In case you missed yesterday’s star-studded webinar that discuss the news, here is a recording of it:
In the meantime, here are some comments that have been taken from mainstream media reports about the changes:
Ted Rossman, Bankrate.com: For some people, it could lift their credit score 100 points or more, somebody who otherwise had really good credit and is dragged down by this one instance of medical debt. And that’s really emblematic of what’s happening here. There’s a push from the CFPB and the lending industry to say, medical debt may be a little apples to oranges here. If it’s a one-time, maybe literally life and death kind of situation, that’s different than your month in, month out credit card bills, car loans.
There’s also a lot of confusion with respect to insurance, which is why they’re going to have this one-year waiting period after it goes into collections, giving people more time to sort it out. It reminds me of other shifts, like taking public records such as tax liens and library fines and traffic tickets off of credit reports. I think the industry is moving more towards credit-like obligations, things like buy now, pay later, streaming plans, cell phones. Those seem more reflective of credit risk than things like medical debt and traffic tickets.
Patricia Kelmar, director of health care campaigns for U.S. PIRG: “Giving people a year, rather than 180 days, to work out any problems with their billing statements, is a good start. Confusing bills, errors in coding, and unsubstantiated claim denials are just some of the reasons people fighting medical bills suddenly find themselves dealing with collections agencies.”
Jon Penn, Certified Financial Planner at RIA Advisors in Houston: “Sometimes no matter how great you might be with putting together a budget and watching your expenses, sometimes life just throws you a curveball and all of a sudden you have an unexpected medical bill.”
Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center: “This is huge, no doubt about it. And it helps those people who have medical debt due to things like co-pays and deductibles, which is usually under $500.”