RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Unable to rent an apartment or get a job because of a medical bill you had trouble paying? It’s all because it’s affected your credit score.

More and more people are sharing a similar struggle. As one consumer explained it to CBS 17 “if people are like me they don’t usually go to the doctor unless they need to. It’s usually an emergency case and when it’s an emergency case you can’t help if you’re able to pay the high prices of what is charged and what isn’t.”

While you might set up a payment plan, missed medical payments within a certain window of time can end up lowering your credit score.

“What we need to stop is for things associated with health care billing to be reported to credit rating agencies and then possibly impacting the upward mobility of our citizens, especially the lower and fixed income people,” said North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell.

Folwell said the proposed Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act would prohibit credit reporting of unpaid debts within one year after a patient is billed.

Lower credit scores impact applications for mortgages, car loans, apartment rentals, cell phone plans and utilities. Some employers are now also running credit checks on potential new hires.

Anjanette Murphy told CBS 17 that it’s a good move to help consumers.

“People are making life decisions now about paying rent, mortgage, gas and I don’t think you should have to be worried about if I don’t pay the minimum they want me to pay on my medical bill it’s going to affect my credit,” she said.

Treasurer Folwell went so far as to default on his own medical payments to experience what others are experiencing firsthand.

“This bill at the end of the day, it is pro-family, pro-consumer and anti-poverty and that’s what we’re attempting to accomplish with this legislation. Former Treasurer Harlan Bowles warned us about the cost of health care 35 years ago, Bill Gates warned us 16 years ago, State Employees Association of North Carolina and State Auditor Beth Wood 12 years ago, Warren Buffet four years ago and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren three years ago when she said that health care billing is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country,” said Folwell.

“What all these individuals have in common is that they are all democrats. When average citizens can’t see themselves out of their poverty because of the health care cartel, it isn’t a political issue, it’s a moral one,” he added.

The law would also:

  • Call for screening patients for eligibility for public assistance programs
  • Post prices online in a usable format using plain language labels
  • Mandate charity care for patients at 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or below
  • Prohibit interest charges to patients who receive the MDMP discounts
  • Shield family members from medical and nursing home debts incurred by a spouse or parent
  • Require detailed receipts of payments
  • Require the Attorney General to write rules to enforce the provisions of the act.

The bi-partisan H.B. 1039 has its first committee hearing on June 7.