Best Ways to Negotiate Your Medical Bills
Ask and you shall receive. Remember this, and most of your problems get solved halfway through. Practice it, and problems vanish into thin air, leaving no trace whatsoever. It is no hidden fact that the recent economical upsurge has affected the medical sector as well. Medical bills that span hospital stays, physician fees, drug and medicine costs, and medical counseling have soared through the roof. Added to this, the explicit changes in the lifestyle of the common man that have had adverse effects on his/her health, makes health care and insurance absolutely necessary. Appropriate negotiation and effective communication with the concerned authorities can reduce your medical dues to a very large extent. This Buzzle article has suggested some ways that will help you negotiate your medical bills, thereby, burning a smaller hole in your pocket.
Hire a health care advocate
If you feel you would be better off hiring a professional to talk on your behalf, then do it right away. Ensure that the professional health care advocate that you hire is experienced and well aware about the loop holes that might occur in the payment agreement. Now, one may argue that the advocate will charge for his services, adding to your financial woes. But if you are facing a hefty medical bill, then hiring a professional seems valid.
Ask for an itemized bill
Scrutinize the entire bill, each and every line in it, thoroughly. Make sure that every test, procedure, surgery, medication, physician, room, etc., that you have been charged for was a service that was actually utilized by you. It is possible that certain charges against services that you never used have been added to your bill erroneously. The presence of an extra zero or a misplaced decimal point could shoot up your bill tremendously.
Pay cash upfront
Settling the bill upfront by paying in cash could actually work to your advantage. The room for negotiation is more, and there is a higher possibility of the cost to be reduced. Payments made by credit cards are not favored, as they impose higher processing fees on the doctors.
Decide on a Payment Plan
If you are not comfortable with settling the bill at one go, ask for other options that include monthly installments, payment by cards, etc. If such facilities are available, decide on factors like the term through which the payment is to be made. Plan your expenses in a way that allows you to pay your monthly medical installment. This ensures you are backed with a good credit score.
Compare hospital costs
Do your research. If it is not an emergency, and the surgery or procedure to be done can wait, find out what your choices are, and select the option that best suits your financial requirements. Ask around in various hospitals about the cost that will cover your surgical procedure. The best time to negotiate the price is before the surgery, it can save you from spending that extra cash.
Make sure your health plan/medical insurance pays
If your surgery or procedure was insured, see to it that your medical insurance company pays for it. If the terms and conditions of the insurance company are unacceptable by you, you could first try to discuss the matter with the company itself. If the company doesn’t budge, you have the right to escalate the issue, but follow the right path by registering an appeal against them.
Discuss and negotiate rates
A hospital will provide the service of the same surgical procedure at different rates. The difference in rates is based on the kind of insurance claimed, and can make a huge difference to your medical bills. Across many hospitals, a respectable part of the cost is waived off the customer’s bill if they have been facing other huge medical bills. Inquire about the rates of the procedure that you wish to undergo, and don’t hesitate to ask for a discounted price or optional low cost treatments.
Know your rights
The recently passed and much-hyped ‘Obamacare’ or the Affordable Care Act states that it is mandatory for hospitals and clinics to lay down written and authenticated policies that establish the eligibility of a patient to undergo free or discounted surgical and medical procedures. The doctors and authorities are required to screen test the customers claiming these facilities, to see if they genuinely fit the bill. If you do, and are still being overcharged, you should immediately bring it to the notice of a legal authority.
As intimidating as the bills may appear, it is unavoidable to skimp down on your medications or surgeries that are absolutely necessary. However, successful negotiation can help you lower the burden of rates and fees, making things much easier. During the entire process, even though it is a tough situation, remember to always stay calm and polite.