6 tips for negotiating your health care bill

6 tips for negotiating your health care bill

Ask questions – Cash (or immediate payment) is king in a medical facility. Ask if there's a discount for upfront payment or a no-interest payment plan.

Get quotes in writing – If you're price shopping before you have a procedure done, get a signature, name and title to go along with the price quoted.

Cover every doctor in the room – When getting prices, be sure you cover all fees associated with your procedure, rather than just the surgical costs. (e.g. anesthesiologist, radiologist, laboratory costs, etc.)

Be polite – Don't be overly aggressive in seeking a discount. Some medical practices will alert you to payment options, but some may not be actively publicizing them. Start with the office clerk, but don't be afraid to ask for a billing manager if you don't feel like you're getting a full answer.

Review all paperwork – If a bill seems out of line, ask about it. Check around to determine if the bill is in line with what other facilities charge. Call the billing department armed with your information and ask for the lower charge.

Call in for expert help – Medical billing is so complex that it's spawned a new industry of professional bill reviewers, sometimes called patient advocates. These specialists, which are rated on Angie's List, are trained to look for incorrect billing codes and duplicate charges. Experts say advocates can recover 17 to 49 percent and charge an average contingency fee of about 30 percent. Some charge flat fees, as well.


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Comments

James Freeman

Subject: Negotiated Settlement

Insurance companies hire third-party firms, such as MultiPlan, to negotiate lower fees for the insurance company. These firms are compensated based on the savings they generate. Payment to the provider is often delayed, unless a negotiated settlement is accepted. Most patients are unaware of this process, which is a win-win for the insurance company and patient, a significant loss for the provider.

Gina Warner

Subject:

As a medical billing advocate, I can tell you that you should always do the above mentioned. Check every piece of paper you get and call if you see anything that may raise a question.

Mark

Subject:

If I had known then what I know now!

Bobbin B

Subject:

ALWAYS review all correspondence from DR or HOSP , they will send you a "copy" of what they've billed ins but it looks like s bill! also, my son was recently in the ER I gave them all of our info, I have total coverage and they STILL sent me a bill stating we had no INS ( AND this was at a catholic hospital) IM an RN , trust me , I know what they do!

Lydia D

Subject:

This is very helpful info that I've bookmarked. Thanks. --Lydia

Ericka Barber

Subject:

This is soooo true. The minute I tell them I'm Self-Pay because I have no insurance and am on a fixed income, the bill goes down by about 50% and they offer me payment options. Take heart!

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