The Accuracy in Reporting Medical Debt Act was a new bill that had been introduced in Congress in 2013 aimed at protecting consumers from inaccurate reporting of medical debt to credit bureaus. An estimated 10 percent of all insurance claims are processed incorrectly. Debt collectors often use information about medical debt that is false, incomplete or outdated. When medical debt is reported to credit bureaus, it can severely damage consumer credit scores. Despite it being introduced in 2013, this Act has not yet been enacted into law.
The bill would have given debtors a window of 120 days to resolve medical debt with collectors before the debt is reported to the three main credit bureaus. Under the bill, debt collectors would be required to delay reporting medical debt if the consumer disputes the debt or is making reasonable efforts to resolve it. Consumers must respond to the collectors within 30 days in order to take advantage of the 120 day window. Collection agencies can still try to obtain payments on debt during the window, but they are not allowed to report it to the credit bureaus.
The Accuracy in Reporting Medical Debt Act was drafted to give consumers the opportunity to challenge the account information held by collectors and resolve medical debt before it is reported to credit bureaus. The sponsors of the bill have said that it will help improve the accuracy of credit reports and give consumers a chance to cope with debt before it scars their credit report. With all of the positive aspects of this bill, hopefully this bill or a similar version will soon be enacted.
Often families hit with unexpected medical emergencies or prolonged illness find themselves in extreme financial difficulty. The proposed new legislation would make circumstances a little easier for these families. Sometimes, however, families burdened with medical debt find that the financial challenges seem insurmountable. Attorneys with experience in bankruptcy law may be able to help these people to find ways to work their way out of extreme financial difficulty.
Source: Consumerist, “Legislation Would Give Consumers 120 Days To Resolve Medical Debts Before Dinging Credit Reports“, Chris Morran, June 28, 2013