It has been a while since we have talked about this – like four years! So we thought it was time to share with you one way to save big money on your medical and doctor bills. We were reminded to tell you about this again because we just used these steps again last week and saved another $252 by following these steps to save money on our medical bills!
We first mentioned this a while back when we told you about our $1,000 meal. That “expensive meal” was mainly due to a quick trip to the emergency room; as it turned out it was actually $1,300 submitted to insurance (not our portion thankfully!). But, even after insurance, our portion of the emergency room was $600 (we were so close to meeting our high deductible if you’re wondering). So why are we telling you all of this? It’s because we want to always give you the full scoop, but even more so let you know what we really paid. Even though the hospital showed my portion as $600, I paid $450 which then resulted in a zero balance!! How did we do it?
The secret is in negotiating your balance by paying the total amount in full and early. We do this all the time and are successful in negotiating the rate a majority of the time.
Here’s the simple steps we use:
- Make sure to watch closely for your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the medical insurance company. The sooner you can call the hospital/practice, the more bartering power you have. It shows you are on top of the bill and a responsible person. This sets the stage for them to give you a balance break.
- Call and plan on paying the amount in one lump sum – you lose your negotiating power unless you can pay it all right then.
- Speak kindly to the person that answers and confirm your information. Ask them if there is any way they could give you a discount if you pay in full today. Explain that you would like to pay this balance in full.
- If the representative can’t help you, thank him or her for all their awesome help and ask to talk to their supervisor or administrator (trying to skip talking to the representative in step #3 is often viewed as offensive and rude – and just last week I didn’t need to talk to a supervisor to receive the discount). Remember to be kind and relate that you will make sure to tell the supervisor how much you appreciated the help – you only want to talk to the supervisor to see if they might be able to help with discounting the balance.
- When the supervisor gets on the line make sure to do as you just said – tell him or her that you really did appreciate the representative’s help. Then ask what kind of discount they will give you for paying in full today (again remembering to be very kind in the phone call). Explain that you would like to pay this all off today and if you did that, would they give you a discount?
And voila! Our average discount is generally about 10-25% off the remaining portion of the bill. We really can’t give you the definitive answer why they do this, but it appears some of the reasons is due to lesser administrative costs in combination with how difficult it can be to collect the amount in full. Cassie used to work as a paralegal early in our marriage and one major client was a large hospital. Eventually they would have to go the legal route with collecting on the long overdue unpaid medical bills. It’s a nightmare for doctors and hospitals to collect the amount they are owed. So many will be happy to reduce for full payment and close the account that day! It saves them tons of money to reduce the “risk” of not collecting.
We don’t have large medical bills often but when we do, we try to follow this process. We can’t say that it has worked every time – because it hasn’t. Some are not willing to negotiate. However, it only takes a few minutes to ask and it is worth asking, especially if you can save big money. We have but we just did this process again this past week on another emergency bill and sure enough, I followed the steps above and within minutes, I saved $220 and the bill was complete.
Now we did want to clarify and give a caveat. When we were in debt and had our financial woes, there was no way we could do this – we did not have an extra few hundred laying around to pay off a medical bill all at once. It wasn’t until we became debt-free and had money saved to be able to cover things like this. We tell you this because we realize that it will require extra money around, and that we haven’t always been able to do this. We also want to make this an encouragement for yet another reason to become debt-free!
Have you ever tried this before? What tips do you have?