This is quite sad. Part of it is due to people not having health insurance or an emergency fund to handle the deductible. I also fully understand when people fall behind for things like utility bills since these things are necessities. However, due to Obamacare the medical bills issue should go away. Everybody should have medical insurance. And now if you can't afford it, the govt will subsidize it for you.
So how do you make sure that this never happens to you? There are some simple solutions that involve financial planning.
1. Have an emergency fund. You should have anywhere to a few months worth of expenses saved to a year's worth of expenses saved. The lower your education level and the more seasonal/insecure you are in your job, the more you need to have.
2. Get insurance. There are copious amounts of insurance to help you cope with this. Life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, etc. Every since person should have health insurance. This helps at least prevent you from having to declare bankruptcy in the case of a serious illness. The Emergency Fund should be at least large enough to pay the yearly deductible. If you qualify for an HSA, max it out! If you have a job and you lose, then file for unemployment insurance benefits. This isn't a handout, it's like a govt sponsored emergency fund that was paid for by your employer. You should also have long-term disability insurance in the event that you can't work due to an illness. This should last you until you're 65 so that then social security will kick in. Set the payout to be 6 months after the illness, that will help reduce your premiums. Remember you should already have this money in an emergency fund. If you have dependents, then you also need to have life insurance. This will help your family not fall behind or into poverty in the event of your death.
3. Never borrow. You can't be hounded by debt collectors if you never borrow money. I understand this is close to impossible for some things like utilities and mortgages, but for God's sake get rid of the fucking credit cards! Pay off all of your debts as quickly as possible and then go to a cash diet. Some might think this is extreme, but you've proven to have a problem with this so you need to take extreme measures. People with gambling problems, don't need to hang out in Vegas...