New research shows more than one out of every three Americans face financial hardship due to medical bills. More than 137 million people struggle to pay medical expenses, and TD Ameritrade says it’s the No. 1 reason why people, regardless of age, consider cashing in retirement savings.

The investment firm says even when some people take extreme measures, retirement funds are not enough to cover those costs as a separate study shows 66.5% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are tied to unpaid medical bills.

Actions you can take to counter massive medical debt

Experts cite many reasons for the explosion of medical debt, and note some steps you can take to experience relief, including:

  • Shopping around for care: Health care professionals acknowledge the system of medical billing in the U.S. is irrational as costs vary widely for similar care and services. Heart surgery can cost $44,000 at one hospital to $500,000 at another, and studies show there is no difference in the quality of care. While some people may experience limited medical access depending upon where they live, others may not realize it’s possible to shop around for care.
  • Negotiating medical debt: Experts say medical bills are negotiable before, during and after care. First, make sure everything on your bill is correct, and you have actually received all the services for which you have been billed. If you still can’t pay, ask the hospital to forgive part or all of the costs or ask whether they have a charitable organization that can help.
  • Bankruptcy: While many people consider bankruptcy as a last-ditch response to overwhelming debt, it can offer a fresh start. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings are federal consumer bankruptcy laws that can help you discharge or restructure debt so you won’t lose all your assets and can restore your financial integrity for a brighter future.

Seek compassionate legal advice

Many Americans find themselves in deep financial struggles through no fault of their own. An experienced and empathetic bankruptcy attorney here in Mississippi will find a solution that best fits your needs and helps you regain your financial freedom.