Medical debt may represent a significant financial challenge for some Oregon residents. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2016, around 20 percent of people who were of working age and who had insurance said they struggled to pay medical bills in the past year while a 2017 study found over 40 percent said they struggled to afford the deductible.

However, there are steps people can take to pay off bills. If the situation is a non-emergency one, people may want to use the Healthcare Bluebook to research the average cost of a procedure and then call the medical facility to see if the price can be negotiated if it is higher. It may also be possible to set up a payment plan for a medical debt. People should talk to the provider’s billing office to do this, but they should not agree to get a loan or credit card from a financing service since these are not interest-free.

Some charities and nonprofits can assist people in paying off medical bills. A doctor’s office or a person’s church, mosque or other religious organization may be able to provide information on this. People should not allow themselves to become so overwhelmed by medical debt that they are unable to meet other financial obligations such as student loans and basic necessities.

When people do reach this point, it may be time to file for bankruptcy. An attorney may be able to assist a person in determining whether bankruptcy is the right option. Some people may not want to file for bankruptcy because they believe they will lose all their assets or be unable to rebuild credit afterward, but neither of these is the case. Even with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, some assets are exempt from liquidation.