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.