The United States' three largest credit agencies starting Sept. 15 will wait six months before including medical debt on an individual's credit report, Michelle Andrews reports for Kaiser Health News.
In addition to the delay, the agencies starting Sept. 15 will remove medical debt from an individual's credit report if the debt is paid by an insurer.
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The policy changes come after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and 31 state attorneys general in 2015 reached settlements with the country's three major credit agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—that, among other provisions, require the agencies to wait 180 days after medical debt is reported before adding it to a consumer's credit report.
Julie Kalkowski, executive director of Creighton University's Financial Hope Collaborative, called the new six-month waiting period "a big step forward toward a more equitable process."
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R), who is part of the multistate settlement, in 2015 said states not involved in the agreement also will benefit from the settlement because it calls for the agencies to change their business practices overall, not just in the states involved in the settlement.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a 2014 report found 43 million U.S. residents have medical debt that adversely affected their credit reports. According to the report, medical debt was the only negative factor found on the reports of about 15 million of those individuals (Andrews, Kaiser Health News, 7/11).
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