Per the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26 percent of adults in our nation reported that either they or someone they live with has had issues paying medical bills in the past year. Therefore, it is no surprise that outstanding medical debt can be a great source of stress for families both in Long Island and nationwide. If you are facing medical bills that you cannot afford to pay, there are some steps you can take to address the issue.

First of all, if you are covered by health insurance, it doesn’t hurt to contact your health insurance company to ensure that you were billed correctly. Sometimes, mistakes are made and you were actually not charged the right amount.

Similarly, contact whatever entity it was that sent you the bill, be it a clinic, a physician or a hospital, and confirm the amount charged to make sure there are no mistakes. You can also ask them if they have any programs that could let you pay back the bill per a repayment plan that would allow you to pay a manageable amount over a period of time. They may also have other types of programs to help those in financial need as well.

Finally, if none of these measures help, you can always speak with a debt negotiator to learn more about how filing for bankruptcy can address your medical debt. For some, filing for bankruptcy is the most appropriate way to address their debts in a way that lets them turn over a new leaf and have a fresh start financially.

What is most important, however, is to not ignore your medical debt. If you don’t make payments on your medical debt, it could be sent to collections, which could also have a negative effect on your credit score. In the end, there are a variety of ways that medical debt can be addressed, including filing for bankruptcy, that could relieve the stress a debtor may feel when facing unmanageable medical bills.

Source: Superior Telegram, “What to do when you can’t pay your medical bill,” Sept. 16, 2016