Even if you have health insurance, you still likely receive medical bills from time to time. And of course, if you don’t have coverage, or your policy is not as comprehensive as it could be, you are going to get hit with charges almost every time you receive care. While paying your bill in full is always a possibility, you don’t want to jump the gun and send a check before thinking twice. Did you know that you can negotiate medical bills? That is right. If you know what you are doing, you can save a lot of money on the cost of medical care.
Here are five details to keep in mind if you are interested in negotiating a medical bill:
1. Do not waste time. The last thing you want to do is wait so long that the doctor has to send you another bill. If you do this, they will view you in a “bad light” which will harm your chances of negotiating a lower price. The second that you receive a bill is the second that you should put the wheels in motion.
2. Are all the charges broken down, one by one? Or did you simply receive a summary statement? To give yourself the best chance of success, you need a detailed bill. If you don’t receive one the first time around, get on the phone and request this type of statement. This makes it simple for you to see exactly what you are being charged for, as well as which areas can be discounted.
3. A cash payment will greatly improve your chances of receiving a discounted price. Simply put, when you pay in cash, you are making life much easier for the billing department. They don’t have to deal with cashing a check or processing your credit card. On top of all this, they receive their money without any wait. Because of this convenience you are offering them, you have much more power to negotiate. If you offer a reasonable cash payment, such as 75 percent of the total bill, you give yourself a reasonable chance to receive a discount. If you offer too little, such as 25 percent, you will not be taken seriously.
4. Who is in charge of the billing department? No matter what, make sure you are talking to somebody who has the power to provide a discount. In a small office, this may be the head of the practice. If your bill is from a large hospital, though, you will want to hunt down the billing manager.
5. Don’t stop if you hear no the first time around. It is called a negotiation for a reason. The first thing you can try is to ask for somebody else. If you are not talking to the top dog, ask for the person who has the authority to negotiate with you. Also, don’t be afraid to tell the person that you simply cannot afford to pay in full. By putting a little pressure on them, they will be more likely to concede a little. The last thing they want is to receive nothing at all from you.
Perhaps most importantly, you may never make any progress, but the worst thing that can happen is they say “no, sorry.”
The next time you receive a medical bill, think long and hard about whether you want to pay in full. With the five tips above, you may be able to negotiate a lower price.
Have you successfully negotiated a medical bill before?
(photo credit: bobster855)