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How To Negotiate A Medical Bill

A Harris poll found that 61% of patients who negotiated with a doctor ended up with a lower fee. But the same survey found that only 12% of people have ever even tried to negotiate.

1. Cash is King:

Doctors also don’t like patients who pay by credit card, because their processing fees can be huge. Receiving cash saves the doctor a lot of time and trouble. When someone pays cash up front or within 30 days, chances are they can negotiate a better deal, perhaps up to a 40 percent discount.

2. Ask For Lower Cost Options:

A study from Center for Health System Change and the University of Chicago, found that only about half (51 percent) of the doctors and providers surveyed offered their patients those lower-cost diagnostic testing options.  US News & World Report found that only 40 percent of doctors recommended outpatient treatment rather than hospitalization. The point is, ask about lower cost options, let your provider know cost is a consideration.

iStock_000018627142Small3. Shop In Network: If You Have Insurance

If you have insurance, typically by using an in-network provider you will receive the best pricing. Typically by being an approved vendor of an insurance company your provider has agreed to a standard set of prices.  Always ask your provider for their price before receiving treatment, and visit CashMedicalCare to verify the pricing is in fact a good value for your budget. If their price is too high, shop around.

If you do not have health insurance, you will have to call providers and request a price. Ask each provider for a discount since you are paying cash.

4. Don’t Be Shy!:

The medical industry has become accustomed to insurance companies negotiating with healthcare providers all the time. You can do it too. Remember it never hurts to ask.

5. Ask Before Your Service:

Whenever possible, ask for a discount before the procedure or service has been provided. Speak candidly with your doctor or the service provider about your circumstances, you aren’t alone and life happens so ask for help if you need it.

6. Look for billing errors and double charges:

One recent study reported that as many as 80 percent of medical bills contain errors. When the bill comes, review it in depth. Make sure you get an itemized list of charges. Match your bills to which treatments you received and the dates of care. The medical terminology and codes can be confusing so make sure you ask questions of the billing staff. Keep an eye out for mischarges and situations that are outside the norm.

7. Ask for the Medicare Rate:

Medicare typically negotiates the most aggressive rates for medical services. Medicare rates can be found online if you know the diagnostic code. This is a great tool to help you find the lowest negotiated price for your market.

8. Get help from a professional:

Medical billing advocates are often experienced medical billing professionals who offer their expertise to interpret your bill, look for errors and overcharges, and negotiate a lower rate. These services typically require no up front costs. These advocates typically earn a fee as a percent of the dollars they save you. Check out My Medical Negotiator who advertises that any bill more than $200 is eligible for its services. Other companies like CoPatient offer a free medical bill audit that helps you to identify billing errors and potential savings opportunities.