How to Reduce Medical Bills - 10 Effective Ways
Did you know that the bill you receive from the hospital after treatment is only an initial offer subject to negotiation? Unfortunately, not many people are aware of that, so they end up under hips of medical debts. The truth is that no hospital will tell you upfront that you can have your health bill reduced or even canceled if you know where to go. Here are ten effective tips on how to reduce medical bills.
*The following tips are listed in no particular order.
1: Know the Real Costs Upfront
Just like buying stuff, you need to know the actual cost of every procedure before they do it because most hospitals charge an abundant amount of money over the standardized rate.
You can check the real cost online at the American Medical Association website, Healthcare, Blue Book, New Choice Health or your insurance carrier’s website.
There are codes that you have to familiarize yourself with to get the actual cost so that you have leverage when negotiating the bill. Knowing the minimum amount of money, you should pay for every procedure will help you know how to reduce medical bills every time.
2: Ask for Discounts
The best tip on how to reduce medical bills is through discounts, and there are plenty of discounts you can get from the billing department if you just call them. Explaining that your insurance is not covering that bill can have you moved to ‘self-pay’ category and your bill reduced by 50%.
You can also ask if you can get a discount if you pay in full upfront or pay over the phone and that can give you another 10 to 25 percent discount. Such discounts are not given out automatically so you have to be proactive and ask nicely so they can understand your situation.
3: Charity Care Programs
Many non-profit hospitals have a financial assistance program in place to help individuals who are poor, uninsured or experiencing an unexpected disruption in their income. There are two types of charity care services; bill forgiveness or reduction and a 0% interest payment plan.
Depending on your situation, the people in charge of the program will decide on how to reduce medical bills. They can either forgive your bill or offer you a simple payment plan where you can clear the bill in a few months.
Of course, like everything else you have to be proactive and ask for the charity care from the billing department. You might even need to search on Google your hospital’s website to get the details.
Financial aid does take some time to be processed. Furthermore, they require a lot of personal information such as bank statements, tax info and other, but it’s worth it.
4: Check for Billing Errors
It is a shock how many honest mistakes you can find in one medical bill such as duplicate billing, mismatched coding, and overcharge.
Once you receive the bill, go through it meticulously with your codes and actual costs at hand. This way, you will see if there are any errors. Correcting such errors with the billing department can have your bill come down significantly.
5: Use Your Emotions Wisely
Knowing how to reduce medical bills is a matter of being human and personable. Hospital workers are very human, and they understand, even empathize with the patients.
Pouring your heart out to the billing lady about how you got fired or don’t have insurance and you have a huge family depending on you will get them to soften up.
However, your situation must be true because people can tell when someone is lying or pretending. So, you have to be very honest and ask if they can work with you. You should come armed with evidence of your income, massive medical bills, and other stuff. All these will show them just how much you need the help.
6: Use Preferred Pharmacy
Preferred pharmacy is a network of pharmacies that charge little cost for prescription drugs and dispensing fees compared to other stores. You can get the drugs at half the price especially since these drug stores are competing on quality and affordability.
7: Call an Expert
Medical mumbo jumbo is not anyone’s cup of tea especially when you are sick. Patients advocate and bill reviewers can help you deal with incorrect billing, duplicate charges, and get you discounts from every angle.
Unfortunately, these experts need to be paid. Therefore, if the reduction you will get is not very significant its best to do the negotiations yourself.
8: Avoid Credit Card
Do not use your credit card to settle the medical bill. One reason that is not smart is that the hospital will not feel obliged to give you a discount since credit cards can be charged a huge amount regardless of the fact that you will still pay later.
Secondly, you have to pay interest on your credit card, and that is more money from you. Try to always settle your bills in cash or via phone transaction.
9: Be Nice
Have you ever met someone who is so friendly and polite that you feel compelled to do nice things for them too? This strategy works everywhere especially if you are a patient in need of help.
It doesn’t matter if you have the right to ask for a reduction due to errors or not. In fact, the only thing that will move the hospital employee to work with you is your personality and how you treat them.
Showering people with compliments, being polite and humble will go a long way than being rude and aggressive. You can get people to do anything if you show that smile and have nice words for them.
10: Go Outpatient
Some of the procedures scheduled for an overnight stay at the hospital can be done outpatient. Hence, you can easily recover at home. Ask the doctor if it is possible and you will have reduced your bill significantly. The secret on knowing how to reduce medical bills is just identifying such opportunities everywhere.
The bottom line on how to reduce medical bills is that you don’t have to settle for those huge bills without a fight. All it takes is to walk up to the billing department or to call, and you can get massive reductions. However, you have to know how to express yourself nicely. Otherwise, being aggressive will not lead you anywhere nor convince anybody.