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Your credit score can also take a hit when medical debts add up

credit score for seniors with medical billsAs if the high cost of health care isn’t enough stress, one thing that can compound that anxiety is the havoc medical debt can wreak on your credit score.

When hidden costs are part of the problem – like an out-of-network doctor who provides care in an emergency – it can be a frustrating experience.

Jeff Woodard knows. A horse-riding accident put him in the hospital for almost a month. After working through recovery and returning to work, one bill continued to nag him, according to a story by Kaiser Health News.

The bill ended up in collections and threatened his credit score.

Though he’d sought care at a hospital within his insurance network, he was treated by an out-of-network trauma doctor who charged him $3,000. Woodard thought the charge was unfair and fought it for more than a year. But the bill ended up in collections and threatened his credit score.

Many of us have heard how medical debt can push people into bankruptcy. But we might not think about credit damage, which is even more common. A Commonwealth Fund analysis, reported by KHN, found that 40 percent of adults younger than 65 reported a low credit score because of medical debt. The ripple effect can last for years when people want to buy a house or apply for other loans. Some consumers feel pressured to pay, even when it’s not clear some debts are their responsibility. They pay just to avoid collections and the threat of credit harm.

Have you experienced this? Ever gotten a surprise medical bill? Felt the pressure on your credit rating from medical debt? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.