Some people are born with a medical condition requiring expensive, long-term care; others are hit with an unexpected medical condition that leaves them unable to work and makes it difficult to pay medical bills. In either instance, the bills can quickly add up and leave the person with overwhelming medical debt. Following are a few tips to help make the amount of money you owe more manageable.

Always double check bills from health care providers against your insurance coverage. A report from the American Medical Association states that there is a 7.1 percent error rate among health insurers. If you find an inaccuracy, be sure to notify the health care provider and request that they do not charge interest or send the bill to a collection agency. This will give you time to resolve the dispute with the insurance company.

Don’t ignore bills if you can’t pay them. Close to 20 percent of Americans struggled with paying medical bills last year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Open the lines of communication with the health care provider to see if you can work out a payment plan. Even if you can only pay a small amount on the bill each month, the biller will typically hold the account rather than sending it to a collection agency. If a payment plan can’t be negotiated, filing for bankruptcy is a good option. Many people are surprised to learn that bankruptcy can boost your credit score and give you a fresh financial start.

If you are faced with unmanageable debt from medical bills, it might be a good idea to speak with a bankruptcy attorney regarding your options. It is important to make any type of financial decision based on accurate information that pertains to your unique situation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “How to stop medical bills from going to a collection agency,”Lisa Zamosky, July 5, 2013