We know a couple who thought it was the best Christmas present ever when their just-out-of-college son got a job in Skokie that included health insurance. This was before the Affordable Care Act had been enacted and the family was concerned how they’d be able to afford paying for the medications he needed for a number of health conditions.

Thanks to the son’s finding that job, things never got to a situation where bankruptcy was considered, but as we have noted in previous posts, that doesn’t always happen. Unexpected medical bills can leave you in a major financial lurch.

Even when you have insurance unique circumstances can cause problems and in the face of inflexible providers and insurers, pressure can build to a monetary breaking point. Obtaining debt relief depends on understanding what your plan covers and what rights you have to recover equilibrium when surprising medical bills hit.

Unanticipated medical expenses is not uncommon. According to a Consumers Union survey conducted just last year, about 30 percent of Americans found themselves in situations where insurance didn’t cover the costs they thought would be.

What makes such events more frustrating is that the business of health care is so convoluted that very often it becomes nearly impossible for even a savvy consumer to know what to expect. You can ask all the right questions of hospitals and providers and be assured you will be covered only to find out later that there’s a coverage gap to fill.

A lot of times it comes down to whether the facility and doctors are in or out of network, and that is something that can be very fluid.

Industry and government officials are not blind to these issues, but solutions have been slow in coming. Until such time as they are found and implemented, consumers might find the protections of bankruptcy to be the escape hatch needed to recover financial buoyancy.