What really happens if you don’t pay medical bills on time

Are past due notices from the hospital or doctor’s office piling up on your dining room table?

It may be tempting to swipe the whole stack into the nearest trash can, but out-of-sight, out-of-mind isn’t a good strategy when it comes to medical bills – or any debt – that you can’t afford to pay.

The bill could go to collections

To avoid having your account sent to collections, work with the hospital or doctor’s office billing department to come up with a payment plan you can afford and then stick to it.

You’ll have even more stress in your life

Relentless notices about past-due medical bills are bad enough, but having a collection agency on your back is even worse.

Late payments can lower your credit score

Multiple late payment accounts on your credit report have an even greater impact on your credit score.

You may still be able to buy some time

All three major credit reporting agencies must wait 180 days after receiving information about unpaid medical bills before putting the past-due debt on your credit report.

You could come up with a solution to your medical debt

Do your best to work out a payment plan, settlement or other arrangement with the hospital or health care provider as soon as you know you’re having trouble making payments.