Negotiating Medical Bills: 5 Foolproof Ways To Cut Costs Instantly

Did you know it was possible to lower your medical bills through negotiating? These 5 tips and tricks are shedding light on one of the healthcare industry’s best-kept secrets to help keep more money in your pockets.

FirstQuote Health Staff
Published on
May 11, 2019
Last Updated on
November 8, 2023
Illustration of two men in business suits negotiating over a desk

After having a medical procedure, the last thing you should be doing is worrying about paying the bill. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on a speedy recovery, many people start worrying about making payments and the financial burden they just incurred. But did you know that you can negotiate your medical bills?

Can You Negotiate Your Medical Bill?

Few people know that it is even possible to negotiate medical bills. You can start at any time from before you even start care to after the insurance company has paid its part and you have a final bill from your hospital or doctor. It makes sense to negotiate what you can. It may not always work, but you won’t know until you ask.

Some people can be afraid that if they negotiate part of a medical, they won’t be able to get care in the future since they weren’t able to pay the entire bill. But that isn’t something you really need to worry about. By reaching out to the doctor’s office or asking about hospital financial assistance right away and working out a repayment plan that everyone agrees on, you won’t be denied treatment.

How Much You Can End Up Saving

With all the variables that are involved with different procedures, it is hard to say exactly how much you will save when you are negotiating medical bills. There are other factors to consider including your income, where you live, and how much hospital financial assistance is offered.

Just keep in mind that there are a lot of different ways to negotiate a medical bill, and they all have the potential to give you a considerable amount of savings.

Here’s Where to Start

Not everyone will find success with the same negotiation tactics, which is why it’s important to have a few different tricks up your sleeve. We’ll cover qualifying for discounts, finding medical billing errors, hospital bill forgiveness letters, and more. Ready to get started?

1. Learn If You Qualify for Discounts

Medical bills aren’t one of the things that come to mind when you think about discounts. But there are discounts out there for some situations if you take the time to ask. Some doctors participate in a hospital network that will automatically give discounts for things like paying over the phone.

Charity care programs also help you save money and can give you a discount after what your insurance covers. Always be proactive and ask about any discounts you are eligible for.

2. Discuss Costs Before Procedures

Knowing what the charges and codes on your bill are is important to know what fees you will be charged for your procedure. Make sure you raise these questions when you start to talk about the procedure. Get a quote in writing and make sure to get one for every doctor that will be in the room. That way you will have all the fees covered that will be associated with the procedure including radiologists, anesthesiologists, and lab costs.

3. Look for Medical Billing Errors

Honest mistakes can happen when processing medical bills, so it’s important to know how to spot them. There is a code for every procedure on a bill that goes to your insurance company. Your average person won’t know what they mean to catch inaccuracies so it is important to know what to look for.

First, look for upcoming. This is when a bill charges for a different treatment that can be a lot more expensive. This is common when you get billed for a name-brand medication instead of a generic one.

Next, check for unbundling. This is when services that should be billed as a package is split up and then billed separately. You will most often see this when several medical tests are ordered that are all related to one medical diagnosis. Duplicate billing is one of the more common errors. Coding that is mismatched to the treatment will result in the insurance company denying the claim and the bill gets sent back to the doctor’s office and then passed on to you.

Balance billing is when you have a balance that is leftover after payment from the insurance company has been received. This may not be an amount that you actually owe if all of the charges are covered by your policy. This is not as common, but can still happen with automated billing processes.

Basically, just make sure to question each charge and that to know the bill reflects what the actual treatment was. Always make sure you are an educated patient and don’t be afraid to call and find out what a code means or have a question about your bill answered. You have a right as the patient to know what you are being charged for.

4. Hospital Bill Forgiveness Letter

Don’t be afraid to call your health provider to ask about a charity program or hospital financial assistance. In particular, hospitals tend to have standard procedures to help people with bills and have programs that reduce costs significantly.

It never hurts to write a Hospital Bill Forgiveness Letter asking for the bill to be partially or totally forgiven. The worst that can happen is the hospital says no. Otherwise, if you are successful, you can have your bill reduced or even completely forgiven.

5. Enlist the Help of a Professional Negotiator

Some people may not feel comfortable negotiating medical bills. For those that need some help, there are experts out there who can negotiate on your behalf. They aren’t free, so you need to make sure you have done everything you can on your own before asking for their assistance. You want to make sure it is worth their fees to have them negotiating medical bills for you, so make sure to be careful if you do go this route.

Experts in the medical billing field are trained to look for duplicate charges and incorrect billing codes. Typically, they can help you save between 20-50% on your bills and will charge a contingency fee that averages about 30% while others charge a flat fee.

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