If you’ve ever spent a night or several in the hospital, you already know that the bills can be quite high. Even with insurance, you could dish out thousands of dollars for services you didn’t even knew existed. Hospital bills are confusing, and most people simply pay them without really trying to figure out what they’re paying for or why. The good news is, most hospitals and doctors will – and do- negotiate for lower rates, if you ask. The bad news is, it can be really frustrating working with medical billing offices, especially if you’re the patient. Here are seven money-saving tips to help you pay less on medical bills.
1. Get Organized.
As soon as you begin receiving bills from the medical center, start keeping track of them all. A spreadsheet works well so you can see everything at a glance. There will be many bills: some from the hospital itself, various doctors, lab work, the ambulance company, etc. so knowing who you owe money to and when is key.
2. Look over your Bills Closely.
It’s not uncommon for hospitals to make errors or over-charge for services when they bill. Make sure the services you’re paying for are ones you actually received. For instance, if you brought your own medications with you, double-check that the hospital didn’t charge you for them – this happens a lot. Also, if you were discharged in the morning, make sure you’re not charged a full day’s rate for the room. Lastly, look for separate charges for things like gowns, sheets, etc., because these are things that should be included with the room’s daily rate – they are considered “cost of doing business.”
3. Challenge your Insurer.
Don’t be afraid to appeal your insurance company’s decision if they reject a claim on the grounds that the service isn’t covered under your policy. A surprising number of rejections are overturned on appeal.
4. Negotiate the Final Price
You have several options for negotiating the final cost of your care. You can call the billing department and arrange a payment plan that lets you pay the bill off over time, or you can ask for a discount if you pay the bill in full. Most hospitals are willing to negotiate terms for either of these payment options.
You can also check to see what other hospitals are charging for the same services and if your bills is way off base, you can use that info to negotiate a lower rate. A little competitive shopping almost always saves a few bucks. Go to Healthcare Bluebook to find out what healthcare costs are in your area.
5. Apply for Medical Assistance.
This can be a hassle, but it could possibly save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. You may have to go through applying and being rejected by Medicaid before the facility will agree to offer medical assistance, though.
6. Hire an Expert.
If all else fails, you may want to consider hiring an expert to navigate the confusing and frustrating waters of medical billing. Do a little research and find one that doesn’t charge you upfront for their services. Most patient advocates charge a percentage of the money they save you, but do not get paid until you settle the amount.
7. Hold a Fundraiser.
There are many people out there willing to give to a good cause. If you’re unable to negotiate a lower price, or cannot pay the entire bill yourself, hold a fundraiser of some sort to raise the money you need. You’d be surprised at the amount of money you can raise when you ask the right people.
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