The Finance Blogger

Negotiate your Health Bill – At the time you get a big bill

Negotiate your Health BillIn our last post we wrote about the times to  negotiate your health bill. We felt that some more detail behind each suggestion was warranted. The first one was Negotiate while you’re still healthy!  The others included – At the time you get a big bill. If you are suffering the results of a medical error. When you are caught between doctor and health plan.  Planning an elective procedure. We will discuss Negotiate your Health Bill in more detail in future posts as well.

Negotiate your Health Bill – Big bills

In our next post we will discuss the next area of when it is time to negotiate your health bills – If you are suffering the results of a medical error; When you are caught between doctor and health plan; and Planning an elective procedure.

We learned a really good lesson when my wife needed some emergency treatment at an emergency clinic. We were pretty green in terms of experience at the time and were more concerned about the health issue and not about the costs. Most people would be in our situation and all we really cared about was whether we were covered or not for medical treatment.

Well my wife was in the emergency department for 5 hours and received a number of tests over this period. She was treated very well and we felt that she really did receive expert medical care. When we left the hospital was happy since they had our insurance plan and felt that they were going to get paid with no real problems.

Negotiate your Health Bill – Cost for Five Hours of Treatment

We eventually saw the bill for the treatment that my wife received. It came to around $9500 much to our surprise. Of course we were not concerned because the insurance was covering this, although they took a really long time and I had to intervene to get them moving to resolve the bill, otherwise I was going to receive collection phone calls for bill collectors.

Eventually the negotiations were completed and the final bill was negotiated down to $6300, still a large amount but much less than the original amount! The insurance company advised us to not pay the difference since this is what they had negotiated as a savings to the overall bill.

What if You do not Have Medical Insurance

In our case we really needed to see a doctor. We really had no choice. What would we have done in the situation that we had no medical insurance coverage. Well there are a couple of things to consider.

Doctors like to order lots of tests to confirm their diagnoses. This is a tricky situation to consider, however if the doctor is confident maybe you can forgo the additional testing and avoid the additional costs.  As you are being treated, you also need to evaluate the cost of everything that is done and whether it is optional or not. this is very tough to do when you are in pain, however if you have an advocate with you, perhaps they can evaluate things for you.

Secondly, before you leave with the bill in hand, start your negotiations immediately. Find out who the right person is that you should be dealing with and talk to them. There is no sense wasting time with the billing clerk. They will not have any authority to negotiate anything so do not waste your time.

Negotiating Leverage

If you pay the bill before you leave, then you have lost your negotiating leverage. A friend of mine received a second notice from a doctor for some treatment they received and decided to call the doctor. He explained that he had not coverage and would pay what he could as soon as he could. he wanted to know how much the doctor could reduce the bill since he would be paying cash. the bill was reduced by 50% on the spot and my friend paid the bill immediately.

Bottom line , talk to the right person and negotiate. The worst that will happen is that they say no and demand the full amount. But at least you asked. Note: you must do this before it falls into the hands of the bill collectors. They have no mercy!

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