Smart Way To Reduce Your Medical Bills

Everything Changes — By on June 1, 2009 at 9:04 am


Warning: None of this is fun, but if you pretend you are Michael Clayton or Erin Brockovich, it helps.

The first step to reducing your medical debt is asking your doc or hospital upfront for a discount on your bill. This takes time, chutzpah, and smarts and is worth the work.  Use these stellar how-to’s based on the National Endowment for Financial Education’s Avoiding and Managing Medical Debt brochure.

1.  Have a positive attitude. Your odds are good: 50% of people who ask for reduced costs get them, plus your chances might be higher using these savvy strategies.

2.  Talk to the right person, face-to-face: Your doc, your doc’s or hospital’s office, business, or billing manager.  Don’t do it by phone or letter.

3. Honey goes farther than vinegar. Be polite. Kill’em with kindness.

4.  Be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer.  (I never do!) Many hospital staff don’t know the correct policies and will say “no” when they should say yes.  Work your way up the ladder.

5.  Build your argument. Find a copy of the hospital’s free and discounted care policy.  (This is where you can play cool lawyer.)

The American Hospital Association has a Billing and Collections Practices Policy.  4,200 hospitals have signed on agreeing to assist patients who cannot pay for all or part of their care, and making these policies accessible and written in clear language. Visit this link and click on “more than 4,200” and see if your hospital is on the list.  If so, you’ve got some ammo.  Use it.

6.  Contact your State Attorney General. If you are at a non-profit hospital, many state AG’s will help ensure they provide charity care.  Find your State AG here.

7.  Compare costs. Do some high level sleuthing to find out what patients with insurance or Medicare are paying for your same procedure codes (it is often lower!) and demand that you are charged the same.

8.  Get it in writing. When they agree to your request, get it in writing!

Have you ever asked for a reduced medical bill?  What happened?  If you have not, why not?  Do you have the energy to move these mountains during cancer treatment?  Could your friends or family help? Also, check out my book Everything Changes for tons of grants, financial assistance resources, and money saving tips.

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Smart Way To Reduce Your Medical Bills

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