Check your medical bills for mistakes like double-billing and call to negotiate your final payment amount.
Have you ever received a medical bill that seemed out of line in terms of the final payment amount?
You are not alone. According to a study by NerdWallet, 63 percent of Americans have received medical bills that were higher than expected.
But NerdWallet Health, where people can find information on health and financial decisions related to health care, has provided a rundown of ways to reduce your medical bill. Author Elizabeth Renter has come up with four steps to changing that final (sometimes huge) number.
Check for Errors – This seems simple, but it is also vital. With the millions of medical bills issued and the dozens of different charges that are attached to those bills, mistakes happen. Check for incorrect dates of service, which can determine if you are being charged properly. Check for services you did not receive or charges for which you have been charged twice. Medical bills all come with an explanation of benefits, so check the charges against those benefits.
Know Stuff – If there is anything on your bill that you do not understand, ask questions. Insurance companies are actually responsive to the needs of its customers, and will explain the bill you receive. They can also check to see if your coverage matched the services you provided and the service provider you went to, determining for certain if the provider is in your network or out of network. It is also possible to determine if the price you paid for services are out of line. There are online medical bill pricing tools that can show appropriate costs. If you find a discrepancy, bring it up with your medical provider. Prices can be negotiated.
Negotiate – A call to your provider’s billing office can produce surprising results. Medical providers do negotiate, and are willing to listen to your story. If you are willing to make a single lump-sum payment, providers might be willing to offer a discount on the final amount. Be positive in your terminology, saying things like “I am willing to’’ rather than “I can’t pay this amount”. Be reasonable and patient with your requests and you are likely to receive the same sort of treatment in kind.
Get It In Writing – Whatever is the end result of your hard work to get a better and lower bill, get the final terms in writing. Take notes during phone conversations, and write down the names of the people you talk to. This is also a part of the process providers are accustomed to.
Paying medical bills has become similar to buying a car; good negotiators can get better deals. Don’t be afraid to ask what can be done to lower your bill.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.