Medical debt diminishes one in five credit scores

One in five credit reports are marred by medical debt.

Medical debt continues to cripple Americans' personal finances, and a new study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts the prevalence of the issue into perspective. According to the report, one in five credit reports are marred by medical debt, a trend that shows little sign of slowing down this year. For many Americans struggling to pay outstanding medical expenses, health care costs are the only sign of financial difficulty they face. 

"A large portion of consumers with medical debts in collections show no other evidence of financial distress and are consumers who ordinarily pay their other financial obligations on time," the bureau stated in its report. 

This disproportionate impact on typically financially responsible consumers illustrates how widespread the rising cost of healthcare is. Rather than affecting only people who accrue debt across channels in their financial lives, even people with strong credit histories are susceptible to the burden of excessive medical payments. The report also found that 23 percent of the complaints the bureau received last year were related to outstanding health care expenses. 

Tamara Apgar, a San Antonio medical claims negotiator, told Express News that she frequently encounters debtors who receive medical bills that are so overwhelming, they simply put them aside and ignore the compounding costs. This takes a toll on the credit scores of patients whose expenses exceed their ability to make payments. As a result, professional claims management administrators have their work cut out for them to pursue and collect on outstanding debt. 

When healthcare administrators outsource receivables management, they lighten their caseloads so they can focus primarily on high-priority billing. This allows care facilities to run more smoothly and efficiently, and reduces backlog of outstanding debts.