My last post was about how the country could save money if everyone was more conscious of medical costs and limited their use for times when they really needed a doctor. Today, I am going to talk about how you as a consumer can save money by negotiating health care costs.
Negotiating Health Care Costs
For starters, you can negotiate the price hospitals charge you. For most services, hospitals ‘mark up’ the procedure by 40-50%. This leaves you plenty of room to negotiate health care costs pricing. There is a hospital system near me that has taken the policy that they will not negotiate price on anything.
I asked how much an MRI would cost me and their response was $3,000. I asked if I could get a lower price by paying in cash and they said no and that they do not negotiate health care costs. I then called a different hospital that is close by and is not affiliated with the one that doesn’t negotiate. There price was $3,100. I asked if I could get a lower price if I paid in cash and was told I could and they would do the MRI for $2,480. That’s 20% off! Wherever you go for health care, be sure to ask if you can get a discount. You will be surprised by how many places will offer a discount.
Negotiating Health Care Costs: Shop Around
As the above points out, everyone charges a difference price, so it makes a difference if you shop around. Realize that you shouldn’t simply go to the location that offers the lowest price. You want quality service and for that, you may have to pay a little more. But if you are simply going for an x-ray, you don’t need to go to a four star hospital as a quality out-patient clinic will do.
In order to shop around, simply ask your doctor for the ‘current procedural terminology’ (CPT). This is a five digit code that billing departments use to bill the procedure. It is a standard code too, so you will be sure that you are comparing apples to apples when asking for prices.
Negotiating Health Care Costs: Think Before You Go
A recent study found that 55% of emergency room visits did not need to occur. The reason for the visit was not an emergency. The patient could have gone to their primary doctor or another facility. My advice is to think it through. Is it really an emergency? If you have doubts, then most likely it is not. Find a 24 hour clinic nearby. When they treat you, they will tell you if you should be going to the emergency room. You’ll not only save money doing this, but will also free up the emergency room workers so that they can deal with those who truly have emergencies.
Negotiating Health Care Costs: Question It
Just because the doctor ordered the procedure doesn’t mean you need it. Don’t be afraid to question your doctor. Simply ask why he thinks you need this procedure and what it will tell him. It may turn out that there is only a chance the procedure will be beneficial. With that information, you can decide for yourself if you need it or not. Many people get second opinions. Don’t treat your doctors word as gold.
Do you have other ideas when negotiating health care costs?