April 20, 2022

CFPB: Report Spotlights Medical Billing Challenges

Consumer complaints show coercive credit reporting and privacy intrusions based on unverified and inaccurate medical billing

A report issued today by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) examines the financial consequences of medical billing and collections endured by individuals and families across the country. The report draws from the rising volume of medical billing and collection complaints submitted to the CFPB. The CFPB is using today’s research to strengthen its across government and industry efforts to support patients and families suffering the consequences of medical billing and collections.

“Many Americans feel forced to pay medical bills that they have already paid or never owed to begin with,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “The credit reporting system should not be used as a weapon to coerce patients into paying medical bills they do not owe.”

People report that they receive medical bills that are inaccurate or not owed, and they describe the subsequent and significant difficulties identifying, verifying, or eliminating the bills. People also report learning of an outstanding medical bill only after experiencing a drop in their credit score and being told that only paying the bill would remove the negative collections information from their credit report. When they did receive prior notice of medical bills in collections, people reported that debt collectors included detailed medical information that resulted in privacy breaches of sensitive medical information. Many people reported paying medical bills to avoid adverse financial and privacy consequences, even when they did not believe the bill to be valid.

When allegedly unpaid or unresolved medical bills get referred to collections and reported to the credit reporting system, people face reduced access to credit, increased risk of bankruptcy, and difficulty securing employment and housing. These negative consequences can occur even when the underlying bill is erroneous, not owed, or unverified.

Among the key findings from today’s reports are that people:

The consumer experiences in today’s report strongly suggest that many medical bills reported on credit reports are disputed, inaccurate, or not owed. This finding supports previous research by the CFPB that found medical bills are less predictive of future repayment than other bills or credit obligations. Specifically, medical bills do less to help lenders determine the likelihood that a credit applicant will repay a new credit extension, like a personal loan.

To mitigate the impact allegedly owned medical bills can have on a person’s ability to participate in the financial marketplace, the CFPB is committed to:

Read today’s report, Complaint Bulletin: Medical billing and collection issues described in consumer complaints .

Read the CFPB’s March 2022 report, Medical Debt Burden in the United States.

This post was originally published here.