Until recently, the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian & TransUnion- tracked and treated medical debt collection very similar to other types of collections.
If a consumer does not pay a debt, the creditor can sell the unpaid debt to a collection agency. The collection account would then appear on the credit report and negatively impact the person’s credit score.
Federal law allows a paid collection account to stay on a credit report for up to 7 years. The status of a paid collection would change to paid and closed or paid and settled. However, the fact that a collection is listed on a credit report could still cause a credit score drop.
The credit bureaus announced that as of July 1, 2022, paid medical collections will no longer appear on credit reports. In addition, the time period before an unpaid medical debt collection appears on a report will increase to 1 year. The bureaus also announced that starting in the first half of 2023, medical debt collection under $500 will no longer be reported on credit reports. The bureaus say these changes are meant to help consumers who struggle with unexpected medical debt
Another change that happened during the pandemic and continues today is weekly access to credit reports. Prior to the pandemic, consumers were allowed 1 free report, annually from each bureau. Currently, a consumer has weekly access. The credit reports provide a comprehensive history of payment history and debt levels. They do not contain credit scores but do provide the information used to determine a credit score. You can access free reports at annualcreditreport.com