How do I save money on medical bills? That is a question many of us may ask. But saving money on medical bills may be easier than you think.
A couple of months ago one of my sons went in for a physical as he was preparing for athletics. During the checkup, a possible anomaly was detected. We were advised to have additional tests run with someone who has expertise in the area of concern. We were not worried about the testing. The odds of anything being seriously wrong were 1 in 100. But we thought it important to follow through with the additional testing since there was still some chance of there being something wrong. Sure enough, nothing was wrong, our son is quite healthy and the testing proved to be unnecessary.
We have a high deductible health insurance plan. As with most plans, the cost of the services were reduced significantly simply because we had health insurance. But I was taken aback when I opened our bill to find that we still owed $731.86! I really did not think it would be that much.
I soon began trying to strategize wiser dollar ways to save money on our medical bill. I had heard that costs could sometimes be negotiated so I decided to call the medical office. My plan was to try and negotiate some savings–any savings. If no discount could be given then I would simply go pay off the bill using a credit card that provides cash back.*
I called the medical office and said essentially the following:
Hello, may I speak to billing . . .
Hello, my name is W. D. Carey. My son had some testing done recently at your office and I am calling to see if instead of putting the bill on a credit card or paying off the bill in installments, what if I were to come into your office and pay for the entire medical bill today?
I know that some medical offices give discounts for such; I’m wondering if your office would as well?
The bookkeeper quickly replied saying “we would give you a 30% discount.” I was astonished. I was hoping for maybe 5 to 10%, but 30% was unbelievable. I suppose that there are enough people who pay off in installments or never completely pay that the medical office was willing to reduce the bill by that much.
So after hanging up the phone, I drove to the office and wrote a check for $512.30. Between the phone call, the trip to the office and cutting the check it took about 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes I saved 30% off the bill or about $220. Now that is the same as earning $660 an hour tax free. I would say such a call is definitely worth it.
Now here are some tips for how you too can negotiate savings with a medical office.
- Consider what medical bills would be appropriate for such negotiations. I do not intend to call our primary care physician’s office for charges concerning routine checkups. However, when special testing is done, particularly by a specialist then I intend to call again in the future.
- Be honest. If a person stretches the truth in one area it is difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to know what is reality and what is not. Also avoid using extreme language like “we always get overcharged.” Simply speak truthfully when discussing the billing.
- Be courteous. Freely say please and thank you. In our society civility is too often in short supply. But recognize that the bookkeeper is not your enemy or someone out to get you. The bookkeeper is someone doing his or her job. Show respect for the person and the work they are doing.
- Be direct. While honesty and courtesy are important, it is also important for the bookkeeper to quickly realize what is the nature of the call, and what you are requesting. This is showing respect for the bookkeeper’s time and it also demonstrates a level of professionalism in the call.
By applying these principles you too may save money on medical bills. Try it and see what you think. $660.00 an hour tax free is significant savings.
*Please note: I do use credit cards to pay for such expenses at times, but only when cash is available so that the credit card bill can then be paid off in full.
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