I recently had 4 small medical bills totaling $1000 go to collections, which has begun to slowly decrease my credit score.
After some research, I figured that my options were (in order of most to least prudent):
A. Call the collection agency (the local debt bureau) to whom this debt has been assigned and ask for verification writing. Negotiate paying a fraction of it as a lump sum for a paid-for-deletion if possible. Report the remainder as income to the IRS for next year's taxes.
B. Call the medical provider and negotiate a discounted payment. Some say I could pay as little as 2/3 of the original bill total.
C. Ignore the debt, as it's already hit my credit. I'm in CA with a statute of limitations of 4 years for debts.
I tried B, calling the medical providers, who referred me to communicate and pay through the credit bureau who my debt is assigned to.
I tried A, calling the credit bureau, who says they don't offer deletions or settlements, suggesting my only option through them is to pay in full. I asked for verification of the debts in writing.
Should I believe the credit bureau when they say they don't do deletions or settlements? If not, what language should I use to negotiate?
Is it significantly better for my long-term credit to pay in full? I don't plan on buying anything in the next 4 years that require financing, but I'd rather not wreck my 730 score if possible. It won't be hard for me to pay in full, but if it will effectively make no difference, I'll avoid it.
Acknowledging that this is my dilemma alone, what would you recommend I pursue next?