Bills looming over you can be bad for your health, but your health may be what got you here in the first place.

Six out of 10 people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy are doing so because of medical debt. Even if you have partial health coverage, copays and deductibles start to add up. When you’re drowning in bills, bankruptcy could be the option you need to get a fresh start.

Categorizing debt

Courts will usually split your debt into two categories for bankruptcy. Secured, which generally covers loans that involve collateral, and unsecured, which likely doesn’t come attached to any property. You could still be liable for some debts if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but you may have a shot at discharging medical bills.

Unsecured debt

Medical costs that you’ve racked up in the past could count as unsecured:

  • Ambulance rides: The ride to the hospital could be one of the most expensive lifts you get in your life. The medical care you get in the back of an ambulance may be well worth the money, but that doesn’t mean you can afford it.
  • Hospital stays: Few things are as costly as a stay in the hospital. The cost of a room alone could have a big impact, not to mention tests, treatments and medications.
  • Doctor visits: A doctor’s time is very valuable, and you could pay dearly for it. If you’re seeing several specialists on top of your regular appointments, that can really inflate expenses.
  • Credit cards: If you can’t turn to your insurance company and your savings runs dry, you may start putting health care on your credit card. Those high costs can become astronomical when you include interest, but you may be able to discharge this debt along with your other medical bills.

Make sure you know your options when the money you owe becomes too much. You won’t be alone if your medical debt is what sends your finances over the edge, but you can have a plan to take care of your burden.