There are few things in the world that are certain. Death and taxes come to mind as being proverbially the surest things in life. Another thing that might rank on the list is the cost of medical care in the United States. As recently as March of this year, a JAMA study found that consumers in the U.S. spent about twice as much as individuals in other high-income countries.

Many readers likely remember that just 10 years ago, we went through the Great Recession. Over the course of that downturn, bankruptcy rates shot upward in California and everywhere else. A common claim then was that a major driver of bankruptcies was medical bills, with some estimating that health care costs accounted for as many as half of all bankruptcies at the time.

New research suggests those numbers were inflated for the sake of pushing through health care reform efforts. Perhaps that is true. But those experienced in the actual processes of seeking bankruptcy protection would likely agree that the argument is somewhat irrelevant now.

The fact is that health care costs are steep. Those who have the benefit of insurance coverage probably access care more easily and for a longer period of time than others, but when insurance runs out and health problems and their associated bills continue, everyone is in the same boat. If a person can’t work, he or she not only can’t pay health care bills, but mortgages, credit card debt and more.

In the end, whether medical bills are the main cause of debt for you, or just one straw of many, is the least of your concerns. The bigger question you face is how you can survive this situation and start fresh. Consulting an attorney should become a priority.

Various options exist to protect consumers while they formulate and execute plans for resolving debt problems. For some, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the answer. For others, it might be Chapter 13 or some other solution. And since many attorneys offer free initial consultation, there’s no reason to put off such a conversation.