Headlined in the online NY Times at
[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, , by clicking on the
gray button ?find and compare hospitals.?
Negotiate with medical labs the same as you would doctors or hospitals
- posted 11 years ago