February 24, 2021

Bucks Blog: Tips for Negotiating the Cost of Medical Care

Readers of Bucks know that we usually advocate negotiating discounts on all sorts of things, on the theory that it never hurts to ask. But what about medical care? Is there room to discuss the cost of, say, your annual checkup?

Consumer Reports thinks so. John Santa, an internist and director of the organization’s Health Ratings Center, said that haggling is a necessary option these days, as consumers pay more for health care through higher deductibles. (A hat tip to Kaiser Health News and NPR for alerting us to Dr. Santa’s column.)

Here are his suggestions:

1. Even when you’re healthy, tell your doctor that cost matters to you, and that you’d appreciate advice on saving money on generic drugs, etc.

2. If you get an unexpectedly large bill for an unplanned procedure, try to sit down with the doctor who ordered it and discuss why it was so costly. Check the bill for errors. Compare costs with average rates using a site like www.healthcarebluebook.com. And approach the provider about a possible discount or at least a payment plan. “Don’t assume the price on your bill is set in stone.”

3. For elective procedures — those that are planned, giving you time to do some research — ask for an itemized list of potential costs, in writing. While you should beware of too-good-to-be-true offers, it makes sense to shop around, he advised, “and bargain for what you think is a fair price.”

Have you ever tried to negotiate a medical bill? What was the result?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=db005e7d57739c792e11b7df9c128017

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