Medical bills could have a major impact on the credit score of a Virginia resident. However, anyone who receives a medical bill may have a variety of protections aimed to limit that impact. For instance, major credit bureaus Equifax, TransUnion and Experian must wait 180 days before putting information about a medical bill on a credit report. In many cases, a medical debt may be removed from a credit report if an insurance company ultimately pays the balance.
Those who do have to pay off a balance are urged to contact the creditor directly. It may be possible to start a payment plan with a low interest rate. In some cases, the debt can be paid in installments without being charged interest on the outstanding balance. Debtors are also encouraged to contact groups such as the Patient Advocate Foundation for assistance. Furthermore, patients should check their credit reports for inaccurate information, and they can contact the credit bureaus to get inaccurate entries removed.
If one is unable to pay a medical debt in a timely manner, it may be best to file for bankruptcy. This can also be a viable alternative to making minimum payments on a credit card for many months or years. Those who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may have the debt eliminated without paying anything to creditors. In some cases, equity in a home or other assets may be exempt from liquidation.
It's sometimes possible to obtain an automatic stay against creditor contact during a bankruptcy proceeding. This may help a debtor obtain peace of mind and relief from harassment. An attorney could help a client throughout the bankruptcy filing process.