The best tips for negotiating your medical bills

The best tips for negotiating your medical bills
March 25 01:00 2014

The best tips for negotiating your medical bills

Have you ever heard the saying “anything is negotiable”? Indeed, you can negotiate the figures on cars, houses, job offers, insurance rates—this list goes on. So why not medical bills as well?

With medical debt the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S., it’s important to know that you can negotiate your medical bills to get the cost down.
Here are some of the best tips for doing this:

1. Research what your care should cost

If you shop around for the best deal on a car at a dealer, why not shop around for the best quality, most affordable care at a hospital? Health care costs can vary drastically between hospitals, so it’s important to research your choices beforehand for any planned procedures.

Start by researching the best hospital for your procedure in your local area. If you receive a bill that seems much higher than the average cost for the procedure, something may be wrong with your bill.

2. Ask for an itemization of charges

You can avoid any surprise costs by asking for a list of itemized charges on your bill. You can request a form known as a UB-04 from your hospital, doctor, or insurance company.

This will give you a better idea of the exact services you are being billed for. It should include things such as your service dates, the type of visit and your total charges.

You may have to ask questions about terminology you don’t understand, clarify dates and times and ask what is grouped into room and facility charges. If you see you were charged for a service or treatment that you didn’t actually receive (including duplicate charges for a service you received only once), ask for it to be removed from your bill.

Finally, remember the importance of keeping good records. You should keep copies of all your medical bills, insurance claims and payments you’ve made to insurance companies.

Some of your medical expenses may be tax deductible: According to the IRS, you can deduct the amount by which your qualified medical expenses exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5% if you or your spouse is 65 or older.

3. Search for errors

Insurance companies, doctors and hospitals often make billing mistakes—and these can add up quickly for an individual paying a bill. A whopping 80% of medical bills contain errors, according to the Medical Billing Advocates of America.

These errors can often be as simple as a typo, such as an extra digit or a duplicate charge. This could lead to thousands of dollars in extra charges, for services you may not have even received.

4. Get professional help

Some employers offer access to medical billing advocates, who work to negotiate your bills at no extra cost to you. If you don’t have access to a billing advocate through an employer, you can use a company like CoPatient, which provides a free medical bill audit for overcharges or errors.

If you’re dealing with a massive bill, it may even be worth hiring someone to help you with the audit and negotiation process.

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