7 Ways to Recognize and Reduce Inflated Charges on Your Medical Bill
When it comes to hospital or medical bills, it may appear as if you have no choice but to pay them. After all, you can’t very well just go without medical care. But, before writing a check to your hospital or charging your credit card, it’s important to understand hospital bills are more than meets the eye. They can be inflated, unfair, and downright ridiculous.
Before paying your bill, review your bill to make sure the amount you are being charged is justified. Chances are it won’t be. In this case, it’s up to you to take the following actions:
Make the Responsibility Yours: Your medical is just that, YOUR medical bill. No one else, not your doctor, your insurance company, or your local government will step in without you taking the lead. If you want your bill to change, you alone must review it and bring the matters up with the proper authorities.
Shop Around: Whenever you set out to purchase a big ticket item - a SUV, a house, a new stereo system - it goes without saying: you shop around. Doing this very thing when it comes to your hospital stay can save you a great deal of money.
Now, oftentimes, it might be difficult to shop around prior to your hospital stay. Especially in times of emergencies, you are more likely to just go to the closest hospital and not the cheapest one. However, shopping around even after your hospital stay can give you the ammunition you need to form a valid argument, and barter your way to a cheaper bill.
Go to the Source: When you are under a hospital’s care, it’s wise to go to the source to find out what things actually cost. For example, if you have surgery and receive an artificial heart, call your hospital and ask who the maker and supplier of the artificial heart is…and then call that company. If you find out that your hospital is inflating the actual price, use that knowledge to your advantage.
Find out About Discounts: Just as doctors and insurance companies are in cahoots, many times hospitals and medical suppliers are as well. Calling a supplier and asking about discounts, bulk rates, or any other deals can further help you understand how much your hospital bill may be inflated.
Threaten, Without Threatening: It might not be illegal for hospitals to inflate their prices, but it is still viewed, by many, as immoral. This means one thing: hospitals don’t want their questionable practices to get out. By subtly hinting that you will tell anyone who will listen about their inflation habits, you will most likely get the attention of the hospital administrator. Remember that you, not them, have the upper hand.
Be Aggressive, but Polite: Getting mad, irrational, and overly emotional will not work in your favor. Instead, be aggressive, but be reasonable and polite. People are more likely to take you seriously if you present your argument in a kind, controlled manner.
Go to the Right People: Your doctor, your nurse, or the candy striper who brings flowers into your room are generally not the right people to talk to about your hospital bill. Doctors and nurses generally have little to do with whatever the hospital charges. Instead of discussing your concerns with them, ask them to direct you to the right person. When in doubt, ask to speak to the hospital administrator. He or she can surely get the ball rolling.
The worst thing you can do when receiving a hospital bill is to pay it immediately, with no questions asked. Instead, review the bill thoroughly, ask questions, and compare your bill to the actual cost. If you notice a discrepancy, speak up. If you are persistent, people will listen.