Columbus doctor: Relief from medical debt worry can boost health

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus private practice physician is praising the decision to drop most medical debt from credit reports.

Last week, the three major credit rating agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — announced the move. They say the decision was made in response to the growing amount of debt accrued during the pandemic.

A joint statement read in part, “After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and a detailed review of the prevalence of medical collection debt on credit reports, the NCRAs are making changes to help people to focus on their personal wellbeing and recovery.”

The move goes into effect on July 1, 2022. Paid medical collection debt will no longer be included on consumer credit reports. In addition, the time before unpaid medical collection debt would appear on a consumer’s report will be increased from six months to one year.

According to the joint statement, the move will remove up to 70 percent of medical collection debt from credit reports.

That statement also shows that in 2023, the three agencies will not include medical debt under $500 at all.

Dr. Anup Kanodia said these moves are in the right direction. He operates his own practice in Columbus.

Kanodia sees it far too often: a patient comes into his clinic and receives treatment, they then need to pay for it. His office offers a credit payment program, but it is based on the patient’s credit score.

Kanodia said most people are dealing with medical debt. NBC News reports 43 million people have some sort of medical debt.

“Seventy-five percent of people with health insurance still worry about medical debt. That stress and anxiety leads to illnesses,” Kanodia said.

He believes this move will lead to people living a healthier, happier life.

“Medical collection debt often arises from unforeseen medical circumstances. As an industry we remain committed to helping drive fair and affordable access to credit for all consumers,” the three credit bureaus said in their statement.