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Asking for a discount on current medical bills


applegirl
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Has anyone had luck negotiating a current medical bill for a lower amount in exchange for paying quickly?

My husband and I have several large medical bills. Some are from a hospitalization a couple of years ago, and the others are from this year. We made payment arrangements on the older ones, and have made these payments every month without fail. We can't afford to make the payments on the new bills, as well as the old bills, each month. We received a small tax refund this year, but it is not enough to cover all the bills, and that is why I would like to negotiate and pay off all I can.

I know that I need to get everything in writing to prevent any of them coming back later to try and make us pay the remaining balance. Are there letter templates that could help me with wording? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

applegirl

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Just call and ask if they will provide a discount if you make the agreed upon payment by a specific date. Dr.'s offices tend to be more likely to do so. All they want is their money and if they can get part of it without hassling you and paying a collection co or lawyer then they are ahead.

It never hurts to try. And you will never get a discount if you don't ask.

I once had a lawyer that was representing me for case against the builder of my house. She added to the cost of the suit her fees. The other lawyer said to her you'll never get that. She says well maybe not, but definitely not if I don't ask. The lawyer returned to his office and called her 30 minutes later to say an offer would be forthcoming as he reviewed the manner in which she filed the case and felt that the judge may be able to award us her fees. I walked away with a check or $11k of which $6k was part of my lawyers fees. So we DID get the fees and never went into court.

I just went for some blood work last week. The woman taking my info asked for my insurance info. I said I don't have insurance, I will be paying my bill myself. She says well we offer a 50% discount if you pay today vs. getting billed, do you want me to find out the charges so you can pay today. Hell yeah. My CBC and UA cost me $40. If she did not mention the discount, I would have asked.

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As a hospital employee, I will tell you discounts definitely depend.

First of all, I would advise that you double check all the bills. Billing mistakes happen, and miscommunications between hospitals and insurance companies often lead to bigger billing mistakes.

If you have insurance, get all of your "Explanation of Benefits" together and call your insurance company. Anything they sent to deductible, ask them about. Make sure they have correct information.

(As a note, my insurance denied 40% of a recent claim on taking my daughter to the Emergency Department because it did not warrant ER care, even though our doctor had sent us there after taking a quick look at her. My insurance didn't know the doctor had sent us, so they paid 95% of the claim after that got corrected.)

Now, once you think everything is straight with your insurance company, or if you do not have insurance, review your bills. If they did not offer detailed bills, request them. Make sure there are not things on this bill that you did not receive. If you feel comfortable doing so, request a copy of the associated medical records and compare them with the bill. If you aren't comfortable, ask if they can have someone help you with that, like the Business Office Supervisor.

Once the bills are right, ask if any discounts have been applied. They probably have been, as most hospitals take money off the top for having a certain insurance, not having insurance at all, or being an employee (sometimes even former employees and relatives of employees). If they say they haven't, ask for one. Start with asking what discounts they may be able to apply to the account, and give them a number of what you can pay. The representative may have a number she can negotiate with. If you get a flat-out refusal, ask for a supervisor. (Just like any other customer service phone call.)

One thing to not do: Please, please, please do not complain about something that happened there and base your discount off of that. Such as, "I think I only want to pay 40% of the bill because the nurses weren't nice." If you have a problem with the stay, complain about that seperately, and wait for that resolution (you should, my Medicare law, get a letter) before you ask for discounts.

Finally, I have never worked at a hospital that will send you to collections if you are trying to pay. If you make some sort of payment arrangements, most will keep it out of collections. Remember, in this economy, those Business Offices are getting slammed by people screaming that they won't pay or can't pay.

Being nice and offering to pay what you can will save the hospital money in the long run.

Also, hospitals don't tend to loathe putting things like this in writing. Just ask that they make a note of it in the financial system, and ask if they can send a letter confirming arrangements before you make the payment to them.

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