Whether or not you have health insurance, you may find yourself in a situation where your hospital bills are more than you can afford. Something as simple as giving birth can have co-pays of over $1,000 and major conditions seem to have no cost limit. With the outrageous price of healthcare and a system that is showing no signs of reducing expenses, it’s important to know how to negotiate your hospital bills to avoid medical bankruptcy.
Choose Your Hospital Wisely
Believe it or not, different hospitals charge different fees for the same procedures. For example, knee surgery in one hospital can cost 3 times as much as at a neighboring hospital that may be only a few miles away. If you have a particular doctor that you like to see, ask if they have admitting rights to more than one hospital and if they do, find out which hospital offers the best deal.
Reducing your medical bills may be as easy as choosing the hospital with the lowest treatment costs. You can use free hospital price transparency tools online to learn about the average costs in your area and give you an idea of what’s a good deal once you start calling around for estimates for your care.
Find out what the government would help pay
On average, Medicare receives a discount of 73 percent on hospital bills. While hospital charges vary widely from institution to institution, the Medicare rates remain fairly consistent. That shows you what value the government feels hospital services are worth. To find out what the government would pay for your procedure, take the estimated cost and multiply it by 27 percent.
Ask The Hospital To Lower The Charges
You’ll have to call the billing office and ask for this service, but be warned that it will probably take multiple calls, voicemails and attempts before you get a positive answer. It will be worth all of the effort if the hospital winds up negotiating the costs a little bit.
When negotiating, take into account how much you can realistically afford to pay. Reducing your fee won’t help you if you can’t pay it. If possible, sweeten the deal by offering to pay all up front in one lump sum. That may sway the billing office to consider your offer more seriously.
If you can’t offer a lump sum, suggest a payment plan. If you do take this route, get the plan in writing to make sure you know how much is owed each month and when it will be paid off. You’ll need this in case the hospital goes back on their word or if the billing workers change and aren’t aware of your situation.
Get Professional Help
There are a growing number of hospital bill advocates that can help you lower your hospital charges. They interpret the bill, look for errors or over charges and ultimately find ways to lower the charge. Some people can save tens of thousands of dollars by using these services and often there is no upfront cost. The agency makes money by charging a fee as a perfect of the dollars they save you. Often, your bill must meet a minimum amount to qualify.