Report: 13% of servicemember debt collection complaints concern medical bills

Men and women in the armed forces are nearly twice as likely to file complaints about debt collection than the general population, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Of the roughly 19,200 complaints from servicemembers the CFPB received last year, about 8,900 were related to debt collection.

The most common type of debt collection complaint submitted by servicemembers is about continued attempts to collect a debt that the servicemember believes is not owed. In many of these cases, the attempt to collect the debt is not itself the problem; rather, servicemembers report the calculation of the amount of underlying debt is inaccurate or unfair, the CFPB said.

According to the CFPB, one specific type of debt that is often mentioned is medical debt. In 2015, medical debt concerns comprised 13 percent of servicemember debt collection complaints, with a majority of the medical debt complaints coming from the veteran population.

"We routinely hear from veterans who are struggling with debt collectors attempting to collect debts stemming from medical bills that should have been paid for by insurance," the report states. "For example, many veterans leave the hospital believing their services were covered by their VA health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid, only to be hounded later by debt collectors requesting payment for these same services. These veterans are often left stressed and worried about their credit report due to these potentially erroneous collections."

CFPB said it also received approximately 2,800 mortgage complaints from servicemembers, approximately 2,200 credit reporting complaints and approximately 1,400 consumer loan complaints last year.

 

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