MEDICAL DEBT: Remains a Household Strain

Report underscores ongoing concerns about accuracy of collections data, particularly with respect to medical debt

By Staff Reporters



According to Gabriella Cruz-Martinez, tens of millions of debt collections disappeared from Americans’ credit reports during the pandemic, a new government watchdog report found, but overdue medical bills remain a big strain on many households nationwide. The total number of debt collections on credit reports dropped by 33% from 261 million in 2018 to 175 million in 2022, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while the share of consumers with a debt collection on their credit report shrunk by 20%.

Medical debt collections also dropped by 17.9% during that time, but still made up 57% of all collection accounts on credit reports, far more than other types of debt combined — including credit cards, utilities, and rent accounts. Despite the reduction in collections, the CFPB noted that the results underscore ongoing concerns that current medical billing and collection practices can lack transparency, often hurting the credit scores and financial health of those most vulnerable.

“Our analysis of credit reports provides yet another indicator that, due to a strong labor market and emergency programs during the pandemic, household financial distress reduced over the last two years,” Rohit Chopra, CFPB director said in a statement. “However, false and inaccurate medical debt on credit reports continues to drag on household financial health.”






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