For many Oregon residents, medical bills form a significant amount of their overall debt burden. Even people with insurance may struggle with high deductibles, expensive medications or out-of-network treatments. As a result, people may find themselves facing significant amounts of debt simply for seeking much-needed health care. In fact, one study found that around 30% of Americans have some form of medical debt totaling over $500. People may be concerned about how their medical expenses could affect their credit score.

Credit reports are used to determine access to loans and credit cards. They can even affect a person’s ability to rent an apartment or receive good rates on their car insurance. Unpaid medical bills, like other forms of debt, can certainly appear on a credit report. There are several ways people can help to protect themselves. In the first place, health care providers do not automatically report unpaid debt to credit agencies. Instead, it is usually reported after the medical debt is sold to a collection agency. People who can work out a payment plan with the health care provider are more likely to avoid this problem.

In some cases, people can negotiate with a debt collection agency to remove the negative credit bureau report in exchange for a payment. It is important to obtain such an agreement in writing before moving forward. Individuals should also take care to ensure that they are paying a collector for a legitimate debt; scammers are known to present themselves as collectors for phony debts.

Other people may face thousands of dollars in debt that they are unable to repay. Personal bankruptcy can be one option to finding debt relief. A bankruptcy attorney can provide advice and guidance on filing for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.