Medical Cost Advocate’s CEO Derek Fitteron was recently interviewed for Fox Business. Read the following BLOG postÂ to learn more about reducing medical costs. Dont forget toÂ negotiate your medical bills and save money. Itâs worth the effort. In these difficult economic times, why pay list price when you may be able to save.
By: Donna Fuscaldo
Published July 10, 2012
Many things in life are negotiable, including medical bills.
âMore and more billing offices, whether itâs a hospital or doctorâs office, are much more receptive to bargaining,â says Nancy Fase Guernon, director of operations at CareCounsel, an health advocacy firm. âThereâs definitely ways to negotiate the bill.â
Â According to a survey of Angieâs List members who asked for discounts from their doctors, 74% said they were successful. âWeâve heard some great success stories from members who have successfully negotiated with their health care provider,â says Angie Hicks, founder of the peer-review website. âIt doesnât hurt to ask. Youâll be amazed at what you can save and still get great care.â
Â From making sure your bill is correct to negotiating ahead of a procedure there are ways to get as much as 40% off your medical bill. Hereâs how:
Step One: Check the accuracy of the bill
Medical billing mistakes are common, so review the invoice carefully before submitting payment.Â Experts say itâs common for a procedure to be coded wrong by the doctorâs office and lead to excess charges.
Â Patients should review their health insurance plan to know what is and is not covered. âYou want to make sure if itâs the insurance companyâs responsibility to pay it, itâs paying what it should according to the plan,â says Fase Guernon.
Â If you donât have insurance or are going out of network and are paying out of pocket, Derek Fitteron, founder and CEO of Medical Cost Advocate, advises getting a full cost estimate of the procedure upfront to avoid any surprises at the end and you avoid getting overcharged.
Â Fitteron also suggests asking for an itemized bill so you can review the charge for every procedure. âSometimes there are mistakes and those mistakes might include bills for the wrong procedures or procedures that didnât happen.â
Â Step Two: Negotiate Up Front
Think of negotiating health care like shopping for a car. A dealership wants your business and will working with youâsame idea applies to a doctor. For instance, many times doctors will reduce their price if you pay in cash or pay for the procedure ahead of time.
Â According to Hicks, some hospitals and doctors will cut a health-care bill by as much as 50% if you pay in cash on the day of service. âWe had a member from Washington D.C. who saved $9,000 on his motherâs in-home care by bargaining ahead of her treatment.â
Â To negotiate ahead of time, experts say it pays to do your homework. Procedure prices vary be region, so know what know what is common in your area before negotiating. âDo the research so you are not throwing out numbers. That can be insulting,â says Fitteron.
Â Step Three: Be honest about your financial situation
Â If you get hit with a medical bill that you canât afford, the best thing to do is call your doctor or hospital and honestly explain your financial situation. Often times the medical facility will be willing to reduce the bill as long as you agree to pay something.
Â âIf you ask the billing office for a discount and you are willing to pay something right then more times than not they will knock down the bill 30% to 40%,â says Fase Guernon.
Â Some providers will set up interest-free payment plans. Hicks points to one member who saved $4,000 by talking to her doctor about her financial concerns. The member couldnât afford the costs that werenât covered by the insurer so the doctor agreed to collect just the insurance portion, she says.
Â âToo many consumers arenât aware of just how much power they have to negotiate their health-care costs. There are many great doctors, dentists and other health-care specialists out there who are willing and eager to work with their patients to provide them with high quality, affordable care,â says Hicks.