Everyone knows that a trip to the emergency room can cost a pretty penny. But what if you could get you could get a discount form the hospital?
According to a survey done by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, only 31% of Americans have attempted to negotiate lowering their bill even though there is a 93% success rate of lowering the cost at least one time!
Many hospitals will give you a discount on your bill, there are just a few keys things you need to know.
1. Don’t be afraid: A hospital’s worst nightmare is that a patient will refuse to pay and that they will end up getting no money at all. It actually happens more than you might think and is another reason your bill is so high. If the hospital can increase your bill to make up for another patient’s refusal to pay, they will. This may send you into a state of shock when you receive your bill, but in the end it helps you to negotiate. The secret hospitals don’t want consumers to know is that they would rather negotiate and give you a discount than not get any money at all.
2. Ask a lot of questions: Call or go to the hospital’s financial department and ask one of the employees’s to explain the bill to you. Hospitals are counting on you to be confused so they can get away with charging you higher amounts for common items, like gloves and aspirin.
3. If you can pay the bill in full: Do it! Most hospitals will give a bigger discount to patients who are willing to pay in full right then and there. Phil Villarreal, a contributing editor for Consumerist.com, was able to shed $1,000 off the cost of his daughter’s birth. He called the hospital and asked if he could receive a 25% discount if he was willing to pay them over the phone, and they agreed!
4. Explain your situation: When are talking to the hospital’s bill center employee, let them know you aren’t trying to run off and not pay, you simply need to decrease the cost a little. If you are unable to pay in full, make your case about setting up a payment plan. If they suggest a monthly cost that is still too high, ask them to bring it down a little. If there is hesitation on the hospital’s part, let them know that if the monthly payments are lower you are more likely to pay on time, every month, without fail.
5. Be Hasty: Getting a discount will be much harder to get if you don’t contact the bill payment center soon after receiving your bill. This shows the hospital that you are taking initiative. Also, some hospitals pass the record of unpaid bills to a collection agency which could hurt other areas of your financial life.
Although hospital bills can be cryptic, don’t let the confusion or amount of the bill intimidate you to the point where you don’t take action.
The New York Times
US News and World Report