If you have health insurance and your medical bills are paid automatically with little to no effort on your part, you probably don’t pay a whole lot of attention to your medical statements when they arrive. However, if you are paying medical costs directly out of pocket, you more than likely spend a little more time scrutinizing them. What if you knew that billing errors occur in 80% of medical bills filed?

You may have the luxury of a good health insurance plan, but if you don’t, it can take one illness to find yourself drowning in a slew of medical bills. Even with health insurance, if a catastrophic illness strikes you or a family member, the costs can well exceed your health insurance limits, leaving you with the remaining balances to pay.

Medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Sometimes it seems there is no other way to get out from under excessive medical bills. Bankruptcy is an option if your medical debt becomes overwhelming. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcycan dismiss medical bills and other unsecured debt. However, there are some other things you can also do to minimize or decrease medical debt.

First, begin to scrutinize your medical bills the same way you might scrutinize your credit card statement at the end of each month – with a fine-tooth comb. This is especially true after a hospital stay. You should be able to compare the procedures you had with the procedures you or your insurance company were charged with. Did they charge you $10 for one Tylenol capsule? Were you double charged for a procedure?

If the medical costs seem outrageous or out of the ordinary, contact the medical facility and question the fees. Have them remove any erroneous charges. Medical costs can also be negotiated. Payment plans can be set up. There are also patient advocates out there that can help negotiate your medical costs for you.

fool.com, “Tips to Negotiate Your Medical Bills” Bisi Ibrahim, Sep. 22, 2013