Overwhelming debt can happen to New York residents for a number of reasons. Overuse of credit cards, loss of employment, automotive or home repairs or unexpected medical bills can all cause consumers to either overextend their finances or fall behind on their current debt obligations.

Medical costs have increased enormously in recent years, but individuals that experience a medical issue still require treatment. Those that incur unexpected medical bills can be inundated by expenses for doctor or emergency room visits, as well as the associated tests and procedures. Those encountering medical debt may panic and make short-term decisions such as using credit cards to pay off the bills or mortgaging their home to do so. Such actions can result in significant interest rates or payments that debtors are unable to afford.

Consumers should understand that they are entitled to an itemized billing for medical debts to verify their source and accuracy. This can allow the consumer to identify any mistakes that may be provided in the billing. Additionally, they should understand that medical debts often do not have an immediate impact on their credit score or history unless the bill has been provided to a collection agency. Consumers that have incurred medical debt that they are unable to afford may seek a workout with the provider such as a payment plan, entrance into a debt program or the application of discounts to their bill.

These options can help the debtor pay off the charged expenses over time. Additional debt relief options may be available, including bankruptcy if it is the right decision based on their circumstances. A debt relief attorney can assist those facing significant medical debt in identifying the appropriate option for their situation.

Source: IFCS, “You’re Not Alone: How To Approach Paying Off Medical Debt,” Matt Cunningham, accessed on Nov. 15, 2015