8 Effective Ways to Reduce Your Medical Bill
Medical bills may seem like one of those things that there is no way around. But, they are certainly not set in stone. They can be contested, negotiated, and often reduced.
Before paying any kind of medical bill, perform the following steps:
Review Your Bill: When dealing with an illness, your hospital bill may be the furthest thing from your mind: happy you’re being discharged, you may simply want to discard your bill. Well, don’t.
Hospitals can make mistakes, double billing or billing you for procedures you never actually had. Instead of just assuming the bill is accurate, go through it (yes, ALL the pages) and make sure you are being billed properly.
Make Sure Your Insurance is Paying What they Owe: Most of us have health insurance so that we can avoid large medical bills. However, most of us don’t realize that not everything is covered under our plan. Still, a good health plan will cover at least a percentage of most procedures. Before giving the hospital any money, make sure your insurance is holding up their end of the bargain.
Review your policy book and call if you have any questions. If you believe a claim should have been paid, contest it. Some insurance companies will reject claims they should be paying just on the belief that no one will notice.
Be Timely with Reimbursement: After your bill has been reviewed and its legitimacy validated, the time will come for you to pay your bill. It might seem easy to ignore, surely everyone does it, but not paying your medical bill promptly can result in a negative mark on your credit.
Similarly, ignoring your bill can also remove your ability to negotiate. Most hospitals will negotiate you bill with you if you call them immediately. In fact, some studies suggest that over 90% of people who try to negotiate their bill do so successfully. But, these negotiations must be done quickly. If you ignore the bill, the hospital negotiation team will ignore you.
Request a Reduction: Requesting a reduction in your medical bill is feasible when done correctly. A great trick is to find out what other physicians and hospitals are charging for similar procedures. If you had a colonoscopy and your doctor charged you $3000, but the going rate is only $2000, you can use these figures to your advantage.
If you can pay in Cash, do: Paying your medical bill in cash not only helps the hospital and doctors - as they don’t have to deal with mountains of paperwork - but it also helps yourself. By paying in cash you have a negotiation tool. You can ask for a reduction because you are saving them time and manpower.
Find a Payment Plan: If you can’t afford to pay your bill in cash, which, let’s face it, probably applies to most of us, ask about a payment plan. Most hospitals have payment plans set in place that allow you to pay a portion of your bill on a month to month basis. Just be sure to get a copy of the payment plan so that you are aware of any limitations or provisions.
Ask for Help: Most hospitals aren’t just about helping people get healthy: they are also about helping people pay off their bill. From charity care programs to social workers, hospitals are staffed with specially trained people to assist families, particularly those who are special needs or low income. If your hospital doesn’t advertise these programs, ask. Chances are, your hospital has one.
Outside of your hospital, many local governments have programs and grants set up to assist people with overwhelming medical bills. Contact your local agencies for more information.
Get Professional help: If you are unable to negotiate your medical bill yourself, call for reinforcements: there are professional companies who can do it for you. Soliciting aid from a debt settlement company or a debt management company may be your best bet at getting a much smaller bill. These companies are filled with people who negotiate all day long: they know how to get prices down and help you get back on your feet.
For many of us, medical bills are a necessity of life. Though we must pay them, we should never pay them without careful scrutiny and negotiation. By heeding the above tips, we can help reduce our bill and the stress that comes with it.