7 Tips For Fighting And Paying A Big Hospital Bill
Haggling with your hospital to lower your bill might not be something you would consider doing, but you don’t always have to pay retail prices for your stay.
Here are 7 tips for to boost your odds of success when fighting and paying a big hospital bill:
1. Know the real cost
Research price range information for your procedure at local hospitals so you have a reasonable figure to use when starting a discussion. Check your insurance companies literature online to see their negotiated rates.
Most local providers would consider a fair price for self-paying patients to be a small premium above the average fee accepted as payment from insurers.
2. Choose your words
Once you have some pricing references, but before you make a commitment to the procedure, visit the patient accounts manager at the hospital and attempt to negotiate a discount before receiving treatment. Be clear and confident. If you are self-paying or have recently been laid off, say so. The billing staff may be willing to offer a discount.
If your previous health insurance has lapsed, ask the office if they will agree to accept your former insurer’s rate. This could give you a forty percent reduction on the retail price.
Offer to pay immediately in exchange for a discount.
Ask whether you can apply to the hospital’s financial assistance programs. These are not only for people on the poverty line. If your medical expenses are high in relation to your earnings, you may qualify.
3. Inpatient to outpatient
Some types of surgery scheduled for a hospital with an overnight stay can be performed equally well at a less expensive outpatient center. Ask your doctor.
4. After the procedure negotiations
If you’ve already had the procedure, you can still ask for a discount, but do so within 90 days of your procedure. First, check your bill to ensure you received all the services you are being charged for. Errors and overcharges are common, for example being charged a full-room rate when you were discharged in the morning or charged for medications that you bought into the hospital yourself.
Offer to pay 30 percent of the bill immediately and ask them to write off the rest. Even if your initial offer is rejected, the hospital may counter with an acceptable discount. Refuse a twenty percent discount and follow the chain of command to negotiate better terms. Note each person’s name, title, and contact information; the date and time you called; what you asked; and what each person said. If you reach an agreement, get it in writing.
5. Don’t pay by credit card
Paying by credit card puts you in a weaker bargaining position with the hospital.
6. Ask about a payment plan
Having negotiated a discount, ask for an interest-free payment plan. This strategy leaves you with the option to renegotiate the amount after demonstrating good faith by making timely payments.
7. Call in the professionals
If you are not offered a reduction or your medical bills are out of control, help is available from patient advocates, bill negotiators or attorneys who can help bargain for you. These specialists keep a percentage of the reduction they negotiate for you.