It doesn’t matter if you are an avid runner or a couch potato; anyone can fall ill unexpectedly or get injured in a car accident and require medical treatment. Even with health insurance, it can be easy to rack up thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Those without health insurance are often faced with overwhelming debt that can have a negative impact on your financial health.

A college student learned this the hard way after accumulating nearly $4,000 in medical debt after visiting the emergency room. She is now struggling to rent an apartment and can’t qualify for a credit card. This could have been prevented if she would have contacted the health care providers immediately and negotiated a payment plan. Often times, hospitals and medical professionals will be willing to negotiate a discount, especially when the patient does not have health insurance. As long as payments are being made, the debt will not be reported to a credit agency. Once the debt is sent to a collection agency, however, it will typically show up on your credit report.

While this is good information to know going forward, it does not necessarily help those whose debts have already been sold to an outside collection agency. Fortunately, there are still places where they can turn for help. Speaking with a bankruptcy attorney is a good place to start. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy are viable options for those who want to stop creditor harassment, find debt relief and become financially healthy once again.

Source: Fox Business, “Getting Rid of Old Medical Debt,” Erica Sandberg, Oct. 28, 2013.