The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent our advertisers

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Slash Your Medical Bills: 7 Ways to Haggle

Haggling with your hospital or dickering with your doctor to lower your medical bills might feel, well, unseemly. But with health care costs pinching the typical household by about $15,000 a year and employers trimming coverage and shifting expenses to employees, it might be time to try your own personal health care reform.

Rising out-of-pocket costs have motivated many patients to ferret out what was, until recently, a dirty little secret of the medical world: You don’t always have to pay retail. If your health insurance isn’t covering your needs or you lack insurance, you can probably pay less for elective and planned procedures just by speaking up.

“People often don’t realize medical bills tend to be eminently negotiable,” says Andrew Cohen, medical debt resolution program manager at The Access Project, a nonprofit health care advocacy group. Greg Voelm, owner of a health care testing company in Sacramento, Calif., and a 35-year veteran of the health care industry, thinks it’s possible to reduce medical bills by as much as 80 percent. But, he says, few people try. “It’s just not something that Americans are trained to do,” Voelm says.

Annette Pappas of Brockton, Mass., a medical billing administrator who has worked in hospitals and doctor’s offices, haggled over her own steep fees after developing breast cancer in 2005 while self-employed and without insurance. Knowing she’d need to tap a home equity credit line to pay for her $19,000-a-week chemotherapy and Herceptin shots, Pappas negotiated with the hospital before beginning treatment. “I said, ‘I’m paying for my own health care and can’t afford to pay you these charges. Can you work with me?’” The sympathetic billing manager gave her a 45 percent discount. “I knew that was well in line with what the insurance companies would have paid,” Pappas says.

More here


Anonymous said...

Ask any doctor what any procedure costs and he'll say, I have no idea!"

How do you bargain with that?

Anonymous said...

Or, do as I do and just not pay them. Their "prices" have been outrageous for a very long time, and it wasn't because of people not paying, then.

With the poor care we receive around here I don't feel guilty at all.