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According to a survey from Freedom Debt Relief, Maryland residents and other Americans may lack the ability to pay their medical bills. The survey found that only 45% of patients in the United States paid for medical expenses in cash in 2019. Of those who didn’t use cash to pay down those balances, 42% put them on credit cards while another 19% borrowed money from family members or friends.

Medical bills are the most common reason why individuals file for bankruptcy. Therefore, it is a good idea to be proactive when it comes to paying for a trip to the doctor or to the emergency room. Individuals are encouraged to create an emergency fund large enough to cover their living expenses for at least three months. This may be done by getting a second job or cutting back on expenses. At a minimum, a person should save enough money to pay any deductible that he or she may owe.

Contributing to a health savings account (HSA) can make it easier to pay medical bills and reduce a person’s taxable income at the same time. Individuals are also encouraged to review their health insurance plans to better understand what it covers. Knowing what a policy covers could reduce the amount that a person actually owes to his or her doctor or other care providers.

Individuals who are looking for a way to get out of debt may want to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding, an individual is allowed to reorganize most of his or her outstanding debt balances. Those balances are paid off over three or five years according to a plan that a debtor proposes. An attorney may provide insight into the potential benefits of seeking protection from creditors.