Consumer Alert: Some medical debt will no longer count against you

Consumer Alert: Four consumer protection bills

Consumer Alert: Four consumer protection bills

ALBANY, N.Y. – Most people who declare bankruptcy do so because of medical debt.

But now in New York, medical debt is far less likely to be the reason for financial ruin. That’s because of a bill the governor signed into law today.

It was just one of four consumer protection bills that could profoundly change the lives of some New Yorkers. The medical reporting bill goes much further than current federal practice.

In April of this year, the credit bureaus agreed to no longer report medical debt that’s less than $500. The New York law signed into law Wednesday doesn’t allow medical facilities to report any debt, no matter the amount. That’s because Gov. Kathy Hochul says medical debt that ruins your credit can ruin your life.

“So, that’s when you start spiraling. Prospective landlords aren’t going to call you back when they see that, right? You’re trying to be able to rent a place, maybe get a little bigger place, you got a family. The bank won’t give you a car loan, if you don’t live close enough to public transportation. You want to get a cell phone; cell phone companies are looking at your debt and they can turn you away, as well,” she said.

A poor credit report can also affect your chances at employment. According to Hochul, 340,000 New Yorkers are struggling with medical debt right now.

But Republicans who opposed the bill fear some might rack up expenses they have no intetion of paying.

Another bill signed by the governor Wednesday stops medicine price-gouging during a drug shortage.