Following is a scenario that many consumers in Texas and nationally can undoubtedly relate to.
Imagine that you recently underwent a medical procedure. You have medical insurance, which covered your care.
However, and as these things typically go, you are in the dark regarding what you personally owe, because your insurer needs time to go through its internal processing.
So, you wait. And in the interim, you receive an invoice from the hospital billing department for the entire amount.
You know that’s not right, so you wait some more. The silence from your insurer is growing palpable, and increasingly so as you receive a second billing from the hospital — this time with interest fees pegged to the base amount, along with language telling you that your account will be going to a collection agency if immediate payment is not rendered.
Yet you are still waiting, with growing fear, for your insurer to weigh in.
Does that hypothetical resonate with you? If it does, you can duly note that it is a reality for many Americans across the country, and a core concern that has prompted recent consumer-protective changes to the way that medical debt has historically been processed and reported.
Going forward, notes a recent article on past-due medical bills, collection agencies that have received billing accounts from medical facilities will no longer be able to quickly report unpaid bills to the nation’s reporting agencies. A new grace period of 180 days now exists for debtors to make good on their accounts.
And there is a second major change as well, namely this: Although information relating to paid delinquent medical bills has customarily stayed on a consumer’s credit report for several years, it will now disappear. That is, once a bill is paid, there will be no reference to it.
Consumers will undoubtedly welcome the new rules. As noted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than half of all debt referenced on credit reports relates to medical bills.