NY Times: Bargaining Down Medical Bills

Headlined in the online NY Times at
formatting link

[K]eep in mind that doctors, hospitals and medical labs are accustomed
to negotiating. After all, they do it all the time with insurers. A
hospital may have a dozen or more rates for one procedure, depending
on whether Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurer is paying the
bill... Your request for a special arrangement will hardly confound
their accounting department. And it is usually in everyone?s interest
to avoid dealing with a bill collector.
[Specific advise from the Times article]
Don?t be shy. ?Patients are often intimidated by their doctors ? it?s
the white coat,?... ?But if you need help, speak up. Most are likely
to help out.? Talk directly to your doctor about your financial
situation. If that makes you uncomfortable, then go to the billing
manager. The office may be able to offer you a discount of 10 to 30
percent depending on the practice (specialists may offer a bigger
break), or propose a plan in which you pay your balance in a few
installments or on a monthly basis ? typically at no interest.
Offer to pay cash upfront.
Be respectful. You?re negotiating for your health, not haggling over a
used car. So Dr. Moritz cautions you not to call your physician and
say: ?Dr. So-and-So will do the procedure for $300 less. Can you match
Strike a deal before you check in. If you need shoulder surgery, for
instance, but don?t have insurance ? or are facing a high hospital co-
payment ? call the hospital?s billing department and explain that you
would like to discuss getting a discount and why. Dr. Moritz suggests
saying, ?I?d like to pay the lowest rate you give an insurance
Research your final bill, and be ready to make a counteroffer. Like
doctors, hospitals would rather be paid something than nothing. They
lost $34 billion in 2007 on uncompensated care, up 55 percent from
2002.... Find out what Medicare would pay for your condition or
surgery, since that program tends to pay less than private insurers.
You can learn that at the federal Department of Health and Human
Services database,
formatting link
, by clicking on the
gray button ?find and compare hospitals.?
Negotiate with medical labs the same as you would doctors or hospitals
(see above).
Reply to
If the patient, the ?customer?, has to haggle prices with the medical industry which is haggling with the insurance companies that should be representing their customers (more ?patients?) and sometime they are the same patients, what a joke. Please keep in mind the salaries of all of the hagglers and think of the waste is in this process.
So what is the actual cost of the procedure and how do the Doctors know if they are making a profit or are working for grins - we are paying for it one way or another.
> Headlined in the online NY Times at >
formatting link
Reply to
Thanks for the kind words, I was expecting a little worse - maybe those are on the way.
The following may be a bit long - hopefully our generous moderators are having a GREAT weekend and are in good spirits to let it pass.
I have been fortunate enough to have worked with an organization that started implementing the "Lean" fundamentals in the late 90's. For those that are not aware of the Leaning of an organization it is based on the Toyota Production system, and the continuous elimination of waste from a process or processes. Most think that "Lean" is only for production environments but can easily be used in most any field and some in the medical community are making great strides. I have read that first pass on a process that has never been "Leaned" there is 30-40% waste. Now multiply that times the $$ and you can see a lot of potential savings or cost avoidance. Also making it more "error proof", last week there was TV coverage of the medical mistake that almost took the lives of the Twin babies of Dennis Quaid and how the hospital has made changes to hopefully prevent the opportunity of human mistakes. Medical mistakes are a large contributor of deaths in the U.S. each year.
Thanks again, cil
======================================= MODERATOR'S COMMENT: Posters are requested to relate comments to personal financial planning.
Reply to

Site Timeline Threads

BeanSmart website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.