How to Save Money at Your Doctor’s Office

Spend less at your check-up, thanks to these tips from an anonymous physician.

  • an anonymous physician, as told to Shivani Vora

“If you have health insurance, don’t bother trying to negotiate your co-pay or coinsurance—the amount is set by your provider, and legally you must pay a doctor that rate. However, if you need a test or a procedure that your insurance doesn’t fully cover, ask your physician for a discount on the fee; you could save as much as 20 percent. (Always speak directly to the physician; the office manager is more likely to say no, without even consulting the doctor.)

“Anyone with a chronic illness who requires frequent appointments can also get a good deal by signing up for a concierge service. The fee is high—$1,000 to $2,000 annually—but it usually includes unlimited e-mails and no-cost phone consultations, which can cut down on pricey office visits. Ask your doctor if she offers such a service or would be willing to make a similar arrangement with you (propose to pay the equivalent of 8 to 10 co-pays up front). And remember to ask for a free sample if your doctor prescribes an expensive name-brand medication or one that you’ve never taken before. If the prescription is used to treat a chronic condition, like acid reflux or high blood pressure, he could give you a two- or three-month supply.”