Negotiate Lower Fees With Your Health-Care Providers
If you seem to have a steady intravenous drip of medical bills, become your own advocate. According to a 2005 Harris poll, roughly two-thirds of people who asked for their fees to be lowered were successful. “The medical billing system is irrational, and there is a lot of room for adjusting prices,” says Mark Rukavina, executive director of the Access Project, a health-advocacy organization based in Boston. He offers these tips.
1. Inquire about the fee and whether a discount is available before the procedure.
2. Ask, “Can you provide any financial assistance?” or “Do you have a sliding scale?” And explain why you need help. Were you recently laid off? Are you coping with multiple medical issues? The more details you can give, the better.
3. Offer to pay in cash, up front. Doing so may cut 10 to 30 -percent off your bill. (This is commonly referred to as a “prompt-pay discount.”)
4. Look into an extended payment plan. “Most providers will let you stretch out payments over 12 months, sometimes more,” says Rukavina.