Even if you have health insurance, there may come a time when you face a hefty medical bill. And for those who do not have any coverage, these bills are all too common.
While it can be disheartening to receive a large bill for medical service, you don’t necessarily have to pay the full amount that is due. It is possible to negotiate a bill from a hospital or doctor’s office – you may not always be successful in attempts to lower the amount due, but it is always worth an attempt.
1. Pay Today, In Person
Unfortunately, unless the billing office is located in your area, you will not be able to pay in person. With many medical facilities, especially larger institutions, it is highly possible that their billing office may be in another city or state. However, if you are dealing with a small local office, such as your primary care physician, there is a good chance that the billing is done onsite.
Don’t be shy about showing up at the billing office and offering to pay on the spot with a credit card or cash. Explain that you showed up in person to pay your bill in full but are only able to afford 80% – you may be surprised at how many times you will receive the discount. A 20% discount is a reasonable request, and a good starting point for negotiating.
Recently, I was faced with a $205 bill for blood work. It was not the largest medical bill I’ve received, but I figured it made sense to at least ask for a discount. After explaining my situation and requesting a 20% discount, the representative countered with a 15% discount if I immediately paid in full. It was an easy decision to make, as I accepted the offer and paid the entire bill at the reduced rate.
2. Be Persistent
There is a good chance that you are going to be declined the first time you request a discount. However, this does not mean you should give up – you simply need to change your negotiation strategy.
If you can afford it, offer to pay with cash. With a cash payment there is no credit card fee or hassle – whatever you agree to pay is what the medical provider will receive, and most companies are hesitant to turn down instant cash flow.
3. Remember to Be Friendly While Explaining Your Situation
It is very frustrating to receive a large medical bill. The couple hundred dollars that I had to pay for blood work is nothing compared to the $10,000-plus bills that some people receive for specialized treatment.
Remember, the billing office employees are only doing their job. They send bills and do their best to collect on them. There is no reason to take out your frustrations on the wrong person; instead, you should be friendly with everybody you speak to.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to share the details of your situation. Inform them that you are doing everything you can to get the bill paid, such as working with your insurance company (if you have one) or setting aside the necessary amount in your budget to pay the bill in full. If you are friendly and courteous, the person you are working with will likely do what they can to help.
If you have top-of-the-line health insurance, you may never have to attempt to negotiate the price of health care. Unfortunately, there are roughly 50 million Americans with no health insurance whatsoever, as well as a large number with low quality healthcare plans.
The next time you are faced with a daunting medical bill, use the three tips above to negotiate a better price on your medical bills. You may be surprised at how much you can save.
Have you ever successfully negotiated a healthcare bill? What tips do you have for lowering the costs of medical bills?