Medical debt is a huge problem for many Americans. Around 62 percent of Americans don’t have enough cash saved to be able to cover a $500 emergency, which highlights just how difficult it can be for many Americans to cover medical bills. Many health insurance plans have high deductibles. A family with a bronze health plan has an average deductible of $10,545. While that figure is certainly high, the situation is even direr for the 12.9 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance.

For people who have mounting medical bills, there are some ways you can try to get those debts under control. When you are trying to do this, it is important to start the process as soon as possible.

Many hospitals are willing to negotiate the amount of the hospital bill. Some hospitals have payment plans and assistance programs. In fact, non-profit hospitals are required to offer programs for financial assistance. Find out about the programs at the hospital and take advantage of the ones you qualify for.

In some cases, you might find that you need financing. This might be the case if you have doctor’s office bills. If you have to go this route, compare your options for financing. Your credit plays a big part in your ability to do this.

If you end up having your account referred to a credit bureau, try to negotiate a final settlement with the credit bureau. If you do this, you can often get a lower payoff amount. Make sure that you take care of the account in accordance with the terms of the settlement.

Of course, if you have a dire financial situation, you might opt to file for bankruptcy. Generally, if your bill is more than half of your annual income, bankruptcy is an option you should consider. Make sure you take all the pros and cons into account before you decide on any of these options.

Source: Daily Finance, “4 Ways to Deal With Medical Debt,” Nick Clements, April. 30, 2015