September 28, 2023
Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-207-2831
Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) supports the bold proposal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to remove medical bills from Americans’ credit reports.
According to a CFPB report released in March 2022, $88 billion of outstanding medical bills are currently in collections—affecting one in five Americans. Medical debt constitutes a majority (57 percent) of all collections on credit reports.
“This proposal will help families financially recover from medical crises and prevent debt collectors from coercing people into paying bills they may not even owe,” said Sally Greenberg, CEO of the NCL. “It will ensure that creditors are not relying on data that is often plagued with inaccuracies and mistakes.”
Approximately 20 percent of Americans report having medical debt, according to the March 2022 report, but previous research by the CFPB shows that consumers with medical debt generally paid back their loans or bills at the same rate as consumers with higher credit scores.
If finalized, the CFPB proposal will do the following:
- Remove medical bills from consumers’ credit reports: Consumer reporting companies would be prohibited from including medical debts and collection information on consumer reports that creditors use in making underwriting decisions.
- Stop creditors from relying on medical bills for underwriting decisions: The proposal would narrow the 2005 exception and prohibit creditors from using medical collections information when evaluating borrowers’ credit applications.
- Stop coercive collection practices: As unpaid medical bills would no longer appear on consumers’ credit reports used by creditors in making underwriting decisions, debt collectors would no longer be able to use the credit reporting system as leverage to pressure consumers into paying questionable debts.
Greenberg added, “Medical debt is not caused by profligate spending. Americans incur this debt because of emergencies or because they are uninsured or underinsured. We believe that this proposed rule will allow consumers weighed down by medical debt through no fault of their own and help them to restore their access to sustainable credit.”
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit nclnet.org.