The Finance Blogger

Negotiate your Health Bills

Negotiate Health BillsIt used to be that the doctor was god and whatever he said was gospel. Now a days we have all learned that doctors are just like everybody else.  They are trying to make a living in a very stressful environment. They make mistakes just like everyone else, they make decisions that are based on judgement. Many  are dealing with huge costs which they pass on the patient or the insurer. This is why you need to Negotiate Health Bills! Doctors bills and hospital bills can be negotiated just like everything else and there are specific times when you may want to discuss the bill and negotiate a better deal. The following are a list of those times and we will discuss each in more detail.

  • While you’re still healthy
  • 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

Negotiate Health Bills While you’re still healthy

Advising the doctor that you do not have a health plan or a limited one can sometimes work in your favor. The doctor may discuss alternatives with you that he might have avoided otherwise. Tests that are nice to have for example may be deferred or eliminated. Using brand name drugs for example can also decrease your overall costs. Do this while you are still healthy and before you head to the doctor’s office or off for more testing.

Negotiate Health Bills At the time you get a big bill

If you get a large bill or even a small one, it is always a good idea to review the details and understand all of the charges. If there is anything you do not understand or recall receiving ask for clarification before you pay of it. Once you pay for something there is a lot less chance you will be able to negotiate.

A friend was billed $10 a day for a new toothbrush every morning while at the hospital. First of all that is an expensive toothbrush and secondly she never received a new toothbrush every day. She reused a tooth brush each day and for 5 of those days she was in a coma and could not brush her teeth. A small example that amounted to over $100 on her hospital bill. Challenge everything.

This is not limited to the hospital. Challenge what your insurance will pay as well to make sure you are getting full value from your insurance coverage.

Contact your health insurer if your calculations show the health plan should be covering more of the total cost, and don’t pay the bill until you’ve exhausted all your options, according to Consumer Reports. Still, it’s important to signal that you want to work toward a resolution.

If  you are suffering the results of a medical error

Unfortunately, medical errors and complications occur frequently. Should you pay for medical mistakes? Check your bill thoroughly and if some thing was given to you in error, it is time to negotiate with the hospital and your insurance company. Having your doctor go to bat for you in such cases can be a powerful negotiating tool.  Your insurance company also may provide you some recourse. Again never pay for something until negotiations are complete.

If you feel caught between doctor and health plan

Billing issues are usually very complex. You may need help to understand the issues and what is being billed and may have to turn to supporting agencies in your state to get help. Bills for specialist you never saw but reviewed your charts for 5 minutes and health care workers that provide limited service are good examples.

Negotiate Health Bills when Planning an elective procedure

You’re in a prime negotiating position to negotiate when you’re healthy and have the luxury of time to compare costs and services for an elective procedure. If you are in control of the timing and the decision to proceed, you are in the best position to negotiate services and costs. Always request a written quotation stating fully the cost and services to be provided. Compare competing quotes carefully if you have the luxury of getting several quotations.

Ideally the estimate would cover services needed up to 30 days after the procedure and specify that if any complications or errors occur, you won’t have to pay anything and corrective action will be provided.

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One Response to “Negotiate your Health Bills”

  1. i have heard many stories about high health bills and people negotiating them down. One guy told me he offered to pay cash and asked how much they would take. They cut the bill by 60%! That is a huge savings. Always negotiate. What have you got to lose?

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