Understand Medical Charges and Discounts
1. Familiarize yourself with routine discounts.
Doctors and hospitals tend to give up to 60% discounts to Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. On an individual basis, you might not have the same leverage as the big players, but negotiating just might save you big money. Also, speak with your local independent insurance agent for advice. They deal with health insurance on a regular basis, and may know a trick or two that you might never think of.
2. Learn about CPT codes.
Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, maintained by the American Medical Association, are standard billing codes. Billing departments use the CPT codes to determine how much they charge you for a given procedure. Once you know the CPT codes, you can compare the prices that your provider charges.
3. Yes, it’s okay to negotiate.
It’s a normal part of doing business in a capitalist society. Nowadays, many patients want to take a more active role to control their spending. As a result, health care providers are getting used to patients advocating for themselves. Many, many workers have lost their medical and health insurance coverage due to losing their jobs. Even those who do still have healthcare coverage or medical insurance are often paying more out of pocket charges than they used to.
Opt For Lower Costs, If Possible
1. Speak to your doctor.
The billing department sends the medical bill, but it’s your doctor who orders the procedures. Let the doctor know your financial limits. If you feel any resistance, don’t take it personally. The doctor may be uncomfortable discussing financials. Also, the doctor may simply assume your health insurance covers more than it truly does.
2. Choose generic drugs.
Save money easily by choosing generic drugs when possible. Generics cost less, and usually have the same active ingredients as the brand name. (Health insurance tends to require people to use generic drugs anyway, unless, by chance, there isn’t a generic version.)
3. Is each service necessary?
Are all of the services needed right now? You may not need expensive lab tests and prescriptions that could be taken care of later. Upon review of your case, your doctor may stop certain medications. Or, the doctor might suggest alternatives that cost less.
1. Pay in advance.
You may get a big discount by paying cash in advance. You may get a 20% or more discount by saving your provider the hassle of filing for and waiting for reimbursement from an insurance carrier. Also, when you pay upfront, the health provider knows there’s no chance that they might have had to refer a bill to a collection agency. That also saves the provider extra expense, and that savings could be passed on to you!
2. What would Medicare charge?
Use Medicare prices as a basis when you propose your negotiated payment. This gives you a reference point. How? Look up your CPT code, then look up the Medicare payments for your geographical area on the American Medical Association website (https://www.ama-assn.org/amaone/cpt-current-procedural-terminology). To start, you can offer 25% above Medicare costs. You can also call local medical establishments and speak to their billing department.
3. Examine bills for errors.
Experts say that up to 85% of medical bills can have one or more errors. Look over an itemized bill closely (you may have to request the itemized version). If you need to, set up a conference call between you, the hospital, and your insurance company. Don’t be afraid to go through a full analysis.
4. Did you ask for an interest-free payment plan?
If you make monthly payments with a credit card, you will end up paying interest to your card bank. But, if you pay cash monthly versus card, the medical billing provider may not charge you interest. The provider might want to give you a break since they don’t have to pay transaction fees on cash.
5. Think about hiring a medical advocate.
Do you have a large medical bill? The advocate charges a fee for their services, but he may save you so much that you could still come out ahead. These advocates tend to charge a flat fee or 25% – 35% of how much they save you from paying to the hospital. Advocates in your area can be found through online directories like the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (https://www.nahac.com/find-an-advocate).
By applying some of the methods above, you could learn how to get discounts on your medical bills. Saving money will make it more affordable for you to take care of your family’s needs. You might save thousands of dollars just using up-front payment and shopping around. Use these frugal living tips for yourself and your family.