Medical bills are a major problem for people living in New York and across the U.S. In fact, around 137.1 million Americans have endured financial hardship due to medical expenses in 2019 alone, according to a new study by TD Ameritrade.

Researchers from the financial services firm found that medical debt is the top reason that people of all ages consider tapping into their retirement savings. Meanwhile, a separate study found that 66.5% of all personal bankruptcies filed by U.S. adults are linked to medical debt. This is because medical emergencies can leave Americans with staggering bills. For example, one woman said that she blew through $20,000 in savings and racked up tens of thousands in medical debt when she lost her job, became uninsured and suffered a series of medical emergencies, including a heart condition that required surgery.

Financial experts say her situation was not unusual. However, there are some steps people can take to avoid similar situations. For example, it is possible to shop around for certain medical procedures. Research shows that prices for heart surgery can range from a low of $44,000 at some hospitals to as much as $500,000 at others. Furthermore, the higher cost doesn’t translate into better care. Meanwhile, it might be possible to negotiate lower prices with a hospital or to arrange a payment plan. There are also debt forgiveness programs and charitable organizations that might be able to help with medical costs.

New York residents who are overwhelmed by medical bills or other forms of debt might find relief by contacting an attorney for advice. After reviewing the details of the case, the attorney may suggest filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This action might halt creditor harassment, stop repossession efforts and help provide a fresh financial start.