Prepay your hospital bill to receive a discount.
Many hospitals and medical providers offer prepayment programs, savings and other types of discounts as part of their overall financial assistance packages. It is important to discuss these options before the healthcare expense has been incurred. A patient can save substantially on their hospital bills by taking advantage of a prepayment plan. The plans can also last a year or longer, thus providing more flexibility to how and when the bill is paid. Due to these extensions, the hospital bill does not necessarily need to be immediately paid and this additional time can provide the patient a number of options.
How much can I save by prepaying a hospital bill?
While every hospital as well as local doctor has their own program with their own terms, there are numerous examples of patients being able to save anywhere from 10 - 75%. The main reason these plans exist is the pre-payment will reduce the risk to the hospital of the bill not being paid at all. The medical provider may also only charge the individual what the doctor would get re-reimbursed by a health insurance plan if the patient prepays for their needs. In general, an increasing number of medical providers will offer a discount in order to encourage the money is paid up front.
Pre-pay when health insurance deductible has not been met
Oftentimes a health insurance deductible comes into play. An increasing number of patients have high-deductible plans. In some cases the hospital or medical provider will ask for payment in advance in these situations. Asking to pre-paying a bill in this case can make a lot of sense, as it will save you even more money and the hospital is often open to providing a bigger discount.
As noted though, the patient needs to ask. If the medical provider reaches out to you, ask what type of discount you can get from pre-paying. It can even sometimes be a negotiation...make an offer. There are also other ways to get help paying health insurance deductibles.
How do I sign up for the discount?
Like many assistance programs, hospitals do not widely publicize the fact they will provide a discount to someone who pays early. You need to be pro-active and ask the hospital (specifically the billing department) about what options are available to you. As after all, a pre-payment plan is just once option.
You should call the hospital billing or accounting office as soon as you have a surgery or medical procedure scheduled. If needed, refer to charity care or financial assistance. As sometimes the pre-payment falls under those departments. Be persistent. Ask how they can help you or your family. You will need to tell them you want to discuss prepayment for an appointment you will be having.
How long do I have to pay?
This will vary by hospital as well. You can still get a discount even when the payment terms are extended. For example, a hospital in Arizona, which is part of the John C. Lincoln Health Network, offers its patients a hospital bill prepayment plan known as Prompt Pay. The discount provided varies based upon how long it takes the individual to pay.
As an example, they offer a 75% discount on the hospital bill if the patients pays within 2 weeks. However, even if it takes one year to pay, you will still receive a 40% discount. We have seen discounts range from 10% to 75%, and the payment terms can be extended over one year.
Who is eligible for a hospital bill prepayment plan?
Most plans are offered for families and individuals who are either uninsured, have limited coverage or who do not have any insurance at all. It is even possible to pre-pay hospital bills when the family has Obamacare, otherwise known as an affordable Health Care Act policy.
It is also an option for the fully insured, but the savings may not be as great. For those individuals with health insurance, some hospital bill prepayment plans may offer discounts on any portion of the bill that is not covered by your insurance company.
Process to follow to prepay
Here is what we suggest you do. As soon as you know you will be admitted to a hospital, call each of the hospitals you are considering going to and ask them about their assistance plans. Ask about all programs they may offer, but in particular inquire into their policies on discounts for payment in advance. You may also find that some hospitals give a percentage discount on your hospital bills and others may offer a flat fee for your savings.
As soon as the procedure or hospital visit has been scheduled, it is time to take action. Call the hospital accounting office or financial aid numbers. Tell the staff at the office that you want to discuss prepayment for your medical bills. Be detailed and specific.
Tell them you are scheduled for a procedure for a surgery called X with the name doctor, and that your visit is set for a certain date. Make sure you document the full name of the bookkeeping person you talk to, so keep a record of everything.
Then ask if there is a set fee or percentage discount that will be offered if you the pay the bill early, or installments. Inquire into the terms and the amount of available discounts, as well as what percentage of the cost of the procedure/surgery can be provided.
Document everything. Write down the exact amount that you will save, and when you need to pay by, and the name of the person you talked to. Tell them to ensure it is put on your account that you are eligible for the advance payment rate, and also ask for a copy of the agreement in writing. You need a written record for any discount that is offered to you.