Is the amount due on the medical bills you receive set in stone? In many cases, the answer is no. Just like the sticker price on a new car, the amount you pay for medical procedures can be negotiated, you just have to know how to ask. Here are six tips to help you save money on medical bills, whether you are uninsured and footing the bill on your own or you have insurance but a procedure or provider isn’t covered under your plan.
1. Be your own best advocate.
Not everyone likes talking about money. Negotiating can seem stressful, and you may feel downright intimidated by the thought of asking a provider or an insurance company for a discount. Some people may even think that questioning the amount on a bill is the same as questioning the doctor’s authority. Just remember that no one cares more about your health and nances than you do, so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need.
2. Get organized.
Keeping track of medical records and invoices can quickly become overwhelming, so set yourself up for success before you even start. Put all of your paperwork in one place, either a paper folder or a digital le on your computer. When you talk with someone about your bills, jot down the name and department of each person you speak with, the time you called, and the key points of each conversation. If a reference number is provided, make note of that as well.
3. Learn about pricing.
You can easily nd the going rate for procedures in your region by accessing sites such as Healthcare Blue Book (www. healthcarebluebook.com) or FAIR Health (www.fairhealthconsumer.org). When you know a fair price, you are in a better position to negotiate. It can also make you feel more con dent, as you have a place to start from and won’t feel like you are pulling numbers out of the air.
4. Keep an eagle eye on your bills.
Ask for itemized bills. Most medical bills contain a brief description of the procedure and the amount due, but you have the right to ask for a more detailed bill broken down by individual charges. Once you have an itemized bill, go over the charges listed. Are they accurate? Mistakes on medical bills do happen, so double-check to make sure what you are being charged for is what you actually received. If you have a question about a charge, ask for more information. If you do spot an error, ask to have it corrected.
5. Ask about discounts and payment plans.
Many hospitals and medical providers o er prompt- pay discounts that they don’t advertise, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. You can also inquire about payment plans, as many providers will break down the full bill into smaller payments made over time. e provider doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of collections any more than you do, so they might be willing to agree to a payment plan.
6. Find help.
An entire industry exists to help patients negotiate better deals on their medical bills. Medical bill advocates are professionals who review your medical bills to ensure they are accurate so you aren’t overcharged for services and can help you navigate the healthcare billing system. Nonpro t organizations are also available to help patients overwhelmed by medical debt. Ask your hospital or doctor for information about agencies in your area.