Many people in Tennessee are struggling to make ends meet and falling behind on their bills. There are a number of issues that can contribute to financial troubles, from excessive credit card debts to sudden job loss. However, the most common single cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is medical debt. In fact, a full two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings are linked to significant medical bills that people are unable to repay. Excessive consumer spending is linked to 44% of bankruptcies, while costly mortgages are linked to 45%.

While some people might think that having health insurance through a job or the marketplace is enough to protect them from medical debt, it often is not. There are a number of unexpected costs that people can face even with insurance, from costly deductibles to in-network requirements that can exclude nearby health care providers or local specialists. Fully understanding an insurance plan can be one of the most important ways that people can help to avoid medical debt, including learning about necessary referrals and how to find an in-network physician. In some cases, people will need to appeal initial denials of certain types of care in order to obtain coverage.

Medical bills themselves can be overwhelming. Many people may feel pressured to pay them off using a credit card, which simply transfers the debt from the health care provider to the credit-card company. However, hospitals and other providers are more likely to negotiate a payment plan that would not affect the patient’s credit than are credit card companies.

People facing medical debt that they are unable to pay off may be looking for solutions to provide debt relief. A bankruptcy attorney can provide advice on whether filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help people to reach a new financial future.