Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hospital Bill Negotiation

Hospital bills can sometimes be unaffordable. The cost of medical services is constantly increasing. Common people are finding it difficult to cope with medical expenses in addition to other financial woes. If you are insured, you can be certain that at least a major chunk of your bill will be covered by the insurance company. However, for the uninsured to negotiate hospital bill is the only way to cut medical billing cost. Many of you may not be aware that by negotiating medical bills you can easily get a discount of up to 60% on your total expense. This is quite a large sum considering the hefty hospital bills. However, you need to know a few things before you are all set for hospital bill negotiation.

Why to Negotiate Hospital Charges

Hospital bill negotiation is pretty similar to debt consolidation, wherein you request to waive off a certain chunk of your debt or discuss a suitable payment plan with your debtors. Similarly, in hospital bill negotiation, you negotiate the total amount of hospital bill with your medical service providers. If you are unable to pay the full amount of your hospital bill, it would make sense to talk with the hospital authorities and get a waiver on part of the bill. When you fail to pay your hospital charges, your case goes for collection. The hospital promise a fraction of your bill to the collection center, as commission. If they succeed to extract more than that amount, they get to keep that amount as profit. In this case, the hospital never recovers the whole amount you owe to them, as part of it goes to the collection center. Hence, your hospital might want to directly recover as much amount as you can afford, without assigning the case to the collection center. When your case goes for a collection, it has an adverse effect on your credit score. Moreover, you have to endure harassing calls from the collection center representatives. Thus, it is often a win-win situation for you and your medical service provider, when there is no third party involvement. This is the reason why many hospitals might agree to negotiate with you.

How to Negotiate Hospital Charges

You seldom receive hospital bill as a single bill inclusive of all expenses. Often, you receive separate bills according to the services offered to you. When you decide to go for hospital bill negotiation, it is better to know what all expenses your medical insurance will be covering (assuming you are insured). Since, you will be paying the rest of the expenses from your pocket, it would make sense to negotiate those expenses. Study your bill line by line and check whether you availed all the services mentioned in the bill. Often, you are charged for certain equipment or services that you never availed. The hospital usually waives off these expenses without fussing. To get a discount on the rest of the bill, you will have to put your haggling skills to test. Some people might shy away from negotiating the bill with the doctor, due to personal relations. In such a case, you can always talk to the billing department, who may, or may not, take your case to the doctor. Be courteous, yet firm while talking to the billing representatives. If you remain polite throughout your conversation, you are likely to get a good discount on your bill amount.

About 70% of the people who opt for hospital bill negotiation, end up getting substantial discount on their bill. Thus, negotiation is indeed worth a try, because you never know when you might get lucky!