How to Negotiate Lower Medical Bills

recession guidehow to negotiate lower medical billsFinancial times are tough, but that doesn't keep our kids from getting twisted ankles, a bad case of strep, or an unexpected trip to the emergency room. But oh how I wish it did!

We're all in this recession together, but some of us have had our insurance plans cut and even if we didn't, it's hard enough to pay some medical bills with insurance and a job! So when the New York Times had an article about bargaining your health care bills, I had to take notes.


Guess what? Doctors and hospitals are no strangers to negotiating -- they do it with insurers on a daily basis. Here are some of the tidbits on how to negotiate your doctor bills:

  • Don't be shy - Just talk to your doctor about your financial struggles. He or she may be able to offer you a discount or an installment plan with no interest. Doctors are people just like you and are more than likely getting hit by this recession as well, so your request will hardly sound unreasonable.
  • Offer to pay cash upfront - Everyone hates dealing with bill collectors and doctors can lose thousands of dollars on unpaid bills. If you're can pay upfront, you may get a discount.
  • Be respectful - You're negotiating your health care bill, not haggling over a used car. Don't challenge them to match another hospital's price.
  • Strike a deal, then check in - If you know you have a costly procedure coming up but don't have insurance, call the billing department and request paying the lowest rate they give an insurance company.
  • Find and compare hospitals - At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, you can compare hospitals along with finding out how much Medicare would pay for a condition or surgery, which you can use as your negotiating starting point.

And though each case is individual, it definitely can't hurt to give it a shot, right?

What do you think? Would you try to lower your health care bill?

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