Many people face mounting credit card and medical debt that can be hard to manage. While both types of obligations may be difficult to handle, medical debt can be troublesome as it is difficult to predict and control.

People do not know when they may be injured or suffer an illness, and the mounting debt that results from receiving needed treatment can be unmanageable for many, even if they have health insurance. Hospitals and medical care providers are more likely to turn outstanding medical debt to third-party collectors than are credit card companies, meaning the debt may result in lawsuits, judgments and garnishments in the event a person is unable to pay.

While credit card debt presents the problem of high interest rates, people may be able to negotiate a reduction in the rate if they have a history of paying on time. People are also sometimes able to negotiate payment plans for medical debt owed, sometimes at no interest. As up to 80 percent of medical bills contain errors, it is a good idea for people to carefully review medical bills upon receipt and dispute any inaccuracies in billing.

Both credit card debt and medical debt can be difficult to manage. If people are in a position to negotiate with the care providers and credit card companies holding their debt, they should try to do so. In other cases, such as when a medical issue has been serious and it is unlikely a person will be able to pay the bill, people may benefit by considering bankruptcy as an option. Like other types of unsecured debt, medical debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. An attorney can explain the eligibility and other requirements to a client in such a situation.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc., “Medical Debt vs. Credit Card Debt: Which is Worse?”, Lindsay Konsko, Jan. 5, 2015