How to Lower Your Medical Bills

Tips to Negotiate Lower Medical Bills

 

Do you want lower medical bills?  With health care costs spiraling out of control, it’s natural to want to lower your medical spending.  According to Consumer Reports, only 31% of Americans try to negotiate the price of medical bills, but those who do usually succeed in saving big money. These are some methods that will help you lower medical bills:

 

Understanding Your Medical Bills – Discounts and Charges

  1. Become familiar with routine discounts. Doctors and hospitals typically give discounts of as much as 60% to Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. As an individual, you may have less leverage than the big payers, but you can usually save significant money by negotiating and asking for a discount.
  2. Look for the CPT code. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are the standard codes maintained by the American Medical Association. They’re what billing departments use to determine the charges for any procedure. Once you know the CPT codes, you can comparison shop. How cool is that?  Of course, we know not all medical care is the same, but it’s good to find out what an average or reasonable rate is.
  3. Get Comfortable with Negotiating your Medical Bills – Many health care providers are getting used to patients taking a more active role in controlling their spending. Millions of people have lost their insurance coverage along with their jobs. Even those who are insured are often paying more in out of pocket charges than ever before. So join the crowd and start wheeling and dealing.

Selecting Lower-Cost  Treatments

  1. Talk with your doctor. While billing departments are important, it’s your doctor who orders the services so let them know your financial limits. Avoid taking it personally if you encounter any resistance. Physicians may feel uncomfortable discussing money and may assume that your insurance covers more than it really does. It’s ok to push back and ask if the test is really necessary.
  2. Always Opt for generic drugs. Generic drugs are any easy way to save money. Most contain the same ingredients as the brand name formulas but they cost much less. This one step can dramatically lower your medical bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills and  Payments

Make up-front payments. Offering to pay by cash or check in advance is usually the best way to get a sizeable discount. Even doctors find cash is king. In exchange for bypassing insurance reimbursements or collections agencies, many providers will cut your bill by 20% or more.

Base your proposed payment on Medicare charges. Medicare payments are a great starting point for calculating your own expenses. Once you know your CPT code, look up the Medicare payments in your geographical area at the American Medical Association website or call around to the billing departments of local medical centers. Paying 25% more than Medicare is reasonable for most procedures.

Always Review your bills. This goes for all bill types but – Industry experts estimate that up to 85% of medical bills contain one or more errors. Ask for itemized bills and review them carefully. It may be helpful to arrange conference calls with the hospital and your insurance company to conduct a full analysis.

Ask about interest free payment plans. Obviously, paying by credit cards costs a patient more in the long run if interest accumulates. The provider also has to pay the transaction fees so they may be willing to give you a zero interest payment plan if you’re paying cash.

Hire a medical advocate. Medical advocates charge a fee for their services but the savings can be worthwhile, especially for large hospital bills. After all, they know the way around medical bills. Typically, you’ll pay a flat fee or 25% to 35% of the amount by which they reduce your total bills. You can find advocates in your area through free online directories at organizations like the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants.

Learn how to get discounts on your medical bills so you’ll be in a better position to afford the care that you and your family need. By shopping around and offering up-front payments, you could save thousands of dollars. Saving on your medical bills can really add up – and put a lot more money in your pocket.

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