Ms. Jones had a great credit score. While she used credit, she always paid her bills in full and on time. However, last year Ms. Jones had to undergo emergency surgery and was out of work for several weeks. While she was off of work she did not receive a paycheck. Unfortunately nine months later, Ms. Jones has a huge hospital bill that she cannot afford to pay. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Ms. Jones is not alone. Approximately 43 million Americans have some sort of medical debt on their credit report. While Ms. Jones may be in good company so to speak, she is worried that the medical debt could impact her credit score and with good reason.

Whether you want to buy a house or a car, or are simply applying for a job, there is a three digit number that can have a big impact on these outcomes. That number is your credit score. Most often a credit score is used by a bank or other lender to determine your credit worthiness. A high credit score can not only secure a person a line of credit, but it can also make the person eligible for a lower interest rate than a person with a low credit score. If a person’s credit score is too low he or she may be denied a loan all together.

Today, financial institutions are not the only entities interested in your credit score. Some employers are now using credit scores to help them decide whether or not to hire a particular job applicant. Employers use the credit score as a measure of a prospective employee’s trustworthiness. The thought process is, if he or she can be trusted to pay back a mortgage, then maybe I can trust him or her to be a quality employee. That makes a person’s credit score pretty important. Sadly though, it can be confusing to figure out what sort of things can impact a person’s credit score. Many people are unsure how certain debts, like medical bills, can affect a credit score.

Until recently, credit reporting agencies treated unpaid medical bills much the same as credit card or other debt. But unlike credit card debts, a person may not even realize he or she has unpaid medical bills until it appears on his or her credit report or the person is denied a loan.

The good news is that a change happened this year where credit bureaus will now wait 180 days before adding any medical debt to a person’s credit report. This is a big deal for consumers, because this change gives consumers more time to dispute an inaccurate medical bill and/or to pay off an existing balance. The bad news is that medical debt, just like any all other debt, can and will appear on a person’s credit report and can lower his or her credit score. This means a smart consumer needs to take action as soon as possible if he or she cannot pay a medical bill within six months.

If you have mounting medical debt that you are unable to pay, you need to talk to a trusted Kansas City Bankruptcy and Debt-Relief Attorney to discuss your financial situation. For more than two decades, Kansas City Bankruptcy Attorney Douglas Breyfogle has been helping clients overcome debt. Do not make the mistake of letting medical debt ruin your life. Take control and call Douglas Breyfogle today at (913) 742-8700 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Attorney Douglas Breyfogle will work with you to develop an individualized plan to tackle your debt head on.