Negotiating a Medical Bill
If you've recently been ill or injured, you know how fast the bills for medical services can pile up. Even if you are lucky enough to have medical health insurance, the deductible and co-payments can leave you deeply in debt. For those who have no medical coverage, the situation is drastically worse, especially since your unable to get a second job to pay medical debts. Take advantage of tips to negotiating a medical bill to try to reduce the amounts owed.
Find out what tests, procedures or other treatments you will need and what types of providers will be conducting the medical services. For instance, you may need the services of a radiologist or anesthesiologist that will be billed separately from the hospital charge or the doctor or surgeons fees. Then, find out what the fair price in your area is. Forearmed with this information, you will have a starting point for negotiations. To find out how much visits and treatments cost, give the medical provider's office a call and ask for the billing office or someone on the administrative staff.
If you have insurance, give the medical provider the name of the provider. If you are self insured or have no insurance, the price that you are given will often be higher because insurance companies negotiate lower fees. Once you realize this, it will be easier to negotiate for a lower price. Filing the insurance paper work costs a lot of money in overhead, and you should try to take advantage pointing out the money that the medical providers saves by not having to deal with the paperwork.
Medical providers charge Medicare lower fees for services. You can find out these fees from the website of the United States Department of Health & Human Services at HHS.gov. All you have to do is type in your zip code and you can see what is charged in your area. You don't have to be a senior citizen to use this as a starting point when you are trying to negotiate a medical bill.
Another bit of information that may make you feel more confident as you try to negotiate a lower charge for you medical treatment is that offering to pay cash at the time of service saves them from the future risk of having to collect on a delinquent debt. Once you have negotiated the lowest possible fee, ask for an additional discount by paying upfront.
Many medical providers have policies in place to help their patients who are facing huge hospital bills or fall within certain financial guidelines. If you foresee a problem paying for your medical expenses, ask if you may be eligible.
It's always best to negotiate medical fees before hand, but a lot of times it just isn't possible. If you have a large medical bill already, you can still negotiate.
If insurance has denied any item on your bill claiming that your policy doesn't cover the service, call the billing department at the medical provider's office. They can often make adjustments in the coding and specify that the tests or services were medically necessary. The insurance company may pay the charge on the resubmitted bill. Be sure to request that the updated bill is sent to you as well as the insurance company so that your records will show any changes in charges.
If you have exhausted all of your options to reducing what you owe when negotiating a medical bill and are still faced with a huge debt, request a payment plan. Let the billing department know how much you are able to pay on the balance each month and stick to your agreement.
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