The federal government estimates that half of overdue debt on credit reports comes from medical expenses. Unfortunately, just having insurance isn’t always enough to protect you from surprise medical costs. Our Atlanta affiliates at WAGA report on some ways to make sure you aren’t hit with huge medical bills because of coverage gaps.

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Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself and make sure your medical care is covered:

If you’re having a planned medical procedure, contact the hospital to ensure they are in-network for your health insurance. Make sure you ask follow-up questions too — Are all of their doctors and staff in that same network? Make sure that anybody who works on you is covered by your network in advance, and you can avoid a surprise bill later.

For medical emergencies, it can be hard to plan. Research your local emergency rooms and find out which ones are in your network, then find out if they staff their own ER doctors or contract another provider. If so, make sure that provider is in-network. Doing your homework can help you know exactly where to go in a medical emergency to avoid a surprise bill.

You can’t always plan ahead for a medical emergency, though. Some states have protections for consumers who get stuck with the bill when providers and insurers can’t agree on what is covered. A study from the Commonwealth Fund breaks down consumer protections by state.

To submit your consumer complaint, use our online form.