Most people will carry some medical debt with them at points in their lives. Everybody makes doctor’s visits. If they have kids, they make various visits a year. Plus, life hands people unexpected health situations. Maybe someone gets really sick. Or maybe someone is injured in an accident. Simply put, life happens, and medical bills can commonly be the result.

Healthcare can be expensive, too. And since the need for medical care and procedures often is unplanned, consumers can run into the financial stress of owing medical debt that they can’t afford. Collectors begin calling. The letters arrive in the mail. The voice messages linger on the cellphones. But the fact might remain the same: a family or individual still can’t afford to pay the balance.

Debt collectors, no matter what kind of debt they are trying to resolve, must follow certain regulations. Creditor harassment is against the law, no matter how late someone is in resolving his debts. The Obama Administration as well as the Senate and the IRS have put forth regulations and proposals that limit the actions of medical debt collectors.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that those with interest in collecting on medical bills are a bit worried about their ability to do their jobs and collect balances owed. Parties collaborated to create The Medical Debt Resolution Review, which is a draft of ideas on how to effectively pursue collections and stay within legal limits. Currently, the guidelines are open for review and modifications.

No matter what the rules are or how the collections process might change, consumers with medical debts might have legal options that could save them from the stress of hoping that one day, just maybe they will be able to make the payments. There are situations in life that make filing for bankruptcy a necessary and helpful option. A bankruptcy lawyer could discuss whether Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or other legal options are appropriate for a specific situation.

Forbes, “Hospitals, Debt Collectors Rush To Create Standards For Collecting Patient Debt,” Evan Albright, Sep. 4, 2013