According to a recently published article, roughly 43 million people in the United States are carrying medical debt. This debt, like other consumer debts, is not one that is taken on because of want; it is due to a need. Unfortunately, most people struggle to meet their obligations in full and spend years battling debt collectors because of it. Thanks to bankruptcy law, however, Michigan residents with this type of debt may be able to rid themselves of it for good and quickly put an end to creditor harassment.

A woman in another state recently shared her story of dealing with her medical debt. In 2009, she was admitted to the hospital with heart disease. She spent several weeks hooked up to life support before she could get a heart transplant. After all was said and done, she was left unable to work while she recovered, which made it difficult to pay the roughly $50,000 she owed to medical providers — many of whom were out of network — after her insurance paid their portion of the bills.

Since she was unable to pay, her debts were sold to debt collectors who constantly tried to contact her via mail, phone and social media. Eventually, a few years after the whole thing started, she was able to negotiate her debts down to a relatively affordable amount and has moved on; though, she says the experience was a traumatic one. Debt collectors are relentless. When it comes to medical bills, insurance providers are not always helpful either.

Medical debt can be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and it may also be possible to include it in a repayment plan if Chapter 13 bankruptcy law protection is pursued instead. Either way, as soon as a bankruptcy petition is filed, debt collectors have to stop all efforts to collect. Understandably, not all Michigan residents drowning in medical debt will want to file for bankruptcy. Fortunately, they may have other debt-relief options they’d rather try first. Legal counsel can assist one in pursuing relief in a manner deemed appropriate for one’s specific circumstances.