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Negotiating The Medical Expense Minefield

The rising costs of medical coverage has given rise to a silent subset of the personal debt problems facing many Americans: medical debt.

In 2014, it was estimated that about one in five adult Americans were contacted by a debt collection agency about medical bills. Given that it’s not totally uncommon for those bills to contain errors, it behooves all patients to be attentive to their medical expenses, including the potential for reducing what you are obligated to pay.

Whether you have coverage, but still have problems paying for high deductibles, or don’t have any medical coverage at all, it’s important to understand your rights and how they apply to your financial obligations.

Know Going Rates

Doctor BillsBefore you can negotiate your medical bills, you should have a grasp of what other medical providers are charging. Since the differences from one provider to the next can be great, you can potentially use that fact in the negotiating process.

More importantly, you might be able to shrink your bill before it even happens. Consider shopping around for better rates… even if you have a doctor you prefer, you may be able to get them to match the competitor’s rate.

Pay Attention to the Details

According to Kaiser Health News, almost $68 billion in health care spending is lost to fraud and billing mistakes every year. Some of that could make its way to your bills. Watch for potential errors. If there are charges that you don’t understand, ask your provider to explain. If it sounds like an odd charge, research it yourself. The beauty of the Internet is, you are empowered to educate yourself.

Take Swift Action

Whether you’re busy or a procrastinator, don’t waste time taking action. The key is to start things before your provider sends your bill to collections, which may happen sooner than you expect. Once it gets to a collections agency it can be difficult or even impossible to get anything changes.

Negotiate the Terms

Even when your bill is a fair amount, you can discuss payment terms. It’s a fairly routine part of the business of medicine these days. But don’t expect it without bring it up. As long as your payment is short-term, you should be able to do so with interest being tacked on.

Another money-saving option is a full payment. If you have enough money set aside and can afford to pay your bill in full, that can be leverage in negotiating a discounted bill.

If your medical debt is significant and complicated enough, it could be worth your while to hire a third party negotiator to work on your behalf. Ironically, you need to vet the patient advocates before they advocate on your behalf. Some charge upfront fees, while others have more favorable terms, like charging a percentage of what they save you.

Crowdfunding Medical Bills

It’s not for everyone, but if you are okay with taking part in a public forum, and your scenario comes across as something the general public can empathize with, setting up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for your medical bills can be a highly effective way to go.

About the Author:

MBA medical business associates was founded over 25 years ago with two employees and a single client. Through word-of-mouth recommendations, they’ve grown to employ over 30 people and service more than 130 clients from all corners of the medical profession. They leverage the latest technology, best operational practices, and some of the brightest talent in their industry in order to offer a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing the business side of medicine.

Image courtesy of  Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net