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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has instituted policies wherein outstanding medical debt under $500 is no longer reportable to credit reporting companies like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While that may offer some degree of protection to healthcare consumers who have been billed exorbitant charges by freestanding emergency rooms and other facilities infamous for hitting patients with “hidden” charges, it takes away one more incentive for deadbeats to make good on their obligations—and urgent care operators could face massive loss of revenue as a result over time. One possible solution could be to require incoming patients to present a credit card at the outset of their visit to cover any incidental charges that could accrue through the course of their care. Hotels do this so regularly that it’s now readily accepted as part of the check-in process. In the case of urgent care visits, outstanding balances (such as due to unpaid deductibles or care not covered by insurance) would be paid with charges made to the card the patient provided.

There Are Few Consequences for Patients Who Owe You Money. How Can You Protect Yourself?