One of the most common reasons why fiscally responsible people find themselves in the throes of a debt problem involves medical expenses. When faced with the decision of whether to go into debt or continue suffering from declining health, most people choose to go into debt to get the medical care they need. However, by making sound choices, you might be able to prevent a medical debt problem.

Here are five things that will help you prevent a medical debt hailstorm:

1. Understand your insurance: The more you know about your insurance, the better you’ll be able to evaluate whether you have the right amount of insurance for your needs. You’ll also be able to hold your insurance company responsible if they fail to honor the insurance policy you’ve signed.

2. Set up an action plan: It’s important to know what facilities your insurance policy covers when you get urgent or emergency care. Urgent care is where you should go to save money — if your situation isn’t a real emergency. The emergency room should be reserved for real emergencies only.

3. Research medical procedures: Research how to find excellent but affordable care. Some medical centers are much more expensive than they should be.

4. Don’t pay with your credit card: Paying for medical care with your credit card is not a good idea because of the high interest rates many of them assess on balances. Also, medical debt is not as bad for your overall credit rating as credit card debt.

5. Negotiate with your health care providers: You may be able to reduce your medical bills significantly by negotiating with health care providers and those you owe medical debt money. Sometimes, your bills will be wrong, and it’s important to catch those errors as well.

If you’re facing unusually large medical bills, you might be able to push back if you understand your legal rights and options. Furthermore, if you are completely underwater in medical debt problems, bankruptcy might be the solution you need.

Source: Huffington Post, “Stop Medical Bills from Driving You into Bankruptcy,” Allan Smith, accessed June 14, 2018