You can get help by negotiating medical bills.

According to Consumer Reports National Research Center, only 31 percent of Americans have tried to negotiate the price they are paying for a medical bill. The survey included both people with health insurance and those who lacked it as well. However, of those who did negotiate a medical bill, over 93 percent have been successful at least once in paying a lower price for whatever it is that they needed. For those patients that did take this approach of asking for discounts, payment plans and other assistance, more than a third of those have saved over $100 on their medical bills.

Anyone can negotiate a medical bill and find how to do it below. It does not take any experience to do this. It is not just insurance companies that can negotiate health care costs. While the typical health insurance carrier gets approximately a 60 percent discount from the provider, states the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management, many individuals can also save money as indicated above. They just need to be willing to ask and maybe enter into negotiations with their medical provider.

Some people just will never feel comfortable in taking this approach. Even when they realize the savings they can get, it may be intimidating to many individuals. So if you are not comfortable in negotiating yourself, then use the services of a medical bill negotiator, which usually work on a contingency basis. So this means that negotiators are in effect free unless they save you money.

While many people find it common to negotiate with a car salesperson or a real estate agent, who you will probably never see again after the sale, it is not as common, and arguably more awkward, to negotiate with a doctor or medical professional. There may be many reasons for this. Most patients trust their provider to make you well and provide ongoing health care for your family. That is why some people turn to a professional, such as a negotiator or some other third party.





How to negotiate medical bills

1) Ask for discounts on your medical bills if you pay a portion of it, or maybe even the entire bill, up front. Healthcare consultants say that most medical professionals will knock 5 or 10 percent, or more, off your bill if you pay up front as it helps them with their cash flow. It also helps reduce the costs incurred by the provider in collections as well as administration of the account.

2) If you do not have health insurance, you can get significantly bigger discounts on your medical bills and expenses if you ask for a price break up front. Studies show that in general, patients can save at minimum 50% for procedures that hospitals, dentists and doctors bill to health insurance plans.

How and why is this? It is because medical practitioners and doctors are used to getting paid less than full price from those health insurance companies. This is even applicable to low income families that are enrolled in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

So the reason you can save 50% or more is that the discounted rate that medical professionals give a patient on their bills is still far better than what an insurance company is paying them for the service. Learn what medical professionals typically bill for their services and how much insurers will reimburse them at If you know the cost, you can negotiate the price before you see the doctor.





3) You need to ask for a price break before the medical procedure, not after the bill comes in. Many doctors or surgeons may offer a discount on the fee, or a “two-fer” if you are getting more than one operation or procedure done, such as with plastic/cosmetic surgery. Smart Money magazine ran a test, and they were successful in getting 8 out of 10 mental-health professionals to offer a discount on therapy sessions by approaching the doctor or medical professional and asking for a break on the price paid. However this needs to be done before the surgery or health care services are provided to the patient.

4) If you go to a hospital and ask for help with your health care bill, you may get a 30 percent discount on the bills you need to pay. Most hospitals offer some type of charity plan or discount. However the key is to ask for it, as most patients do not do this. It is totally up to the discretion of the hospital, medical office, or CFO as to how much the medical billing office is willing to give you. Or, if you are not comfortable in negotiating yourself, contact a negotiator or a medical billing advocate who can help.

Negotiating can help in dealing with insurance companies as well. If your policy only pays for some of the medical or dental bill that was charged for the care, the patient can contest this decision. There are consumer advocates, doctors, mediators as well as other professionals that will negotiate an appeal. More on help with health insurance claim appeals.

Suggestions on negotiating hospital bills

When someone is dealing with a hospital, the process may be slightly different then when dealing with a smaller practice, such as a local doctor’s office. A big reason is that some hospitals are public entities or part of larger networks. Many of them also receive federal government funds, so they need to offer various payment plans, discounts, and other aid for those patients who are willing to negotiate.

So there are some additional tips and methods to manage and negotiate hospital bills. It is possible, and in some cases surprisingly easy, to do this and to save significantly on your expenses. Find additional tips to negotiate hospital bills.

Example of negotiating medical bills

We are aware of a patient with prostate cancer who was in the hospital for just a few days, however those few days were enough to push man toward financial ruin. The radiation treatment cost $65,000, and his total medical bill was over $100,000. Almost none of his expenses were covered by the health insurance he received through his fast-food restaurant job.





The patient’s medical debt recovery process began when his sister, who was helping manage his medical bills after he became sick, asked for and negotiated for help. She applied for charity assistance from the hospital, told them of their situation, and also offered proof of the patient’s wages. She tried to negotiate as many costs as possible in an effort to even save a few dollars.

The hospital proceeded to write off the cost of his stay, and the total cost of the radiation treatment was eventually forgiven as well. Both the patient and his sister said that they were really shocked that these medical providers would work with them. It was a learning experience for them, and it was very effective. But nevertheless, the medical provider waived their bills after the negotiations.

It is possible to negotiate medical bills and really so much more in life. Learn how to negotiate savings for other items. Find a list of money saving tips. You can save on insurance, credit cards, prescription drugs, and other expenses in addition to medical bills.

By Jon McNamara

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