When one self-insures, or takes on more of one's insurance costs through a higher insurance deductible, they usually are very aware of all costs since they are paying a lot of their doctor or hospital fees out of their own pocket.
Here are some helpful tips one can use to make sure they pay the lowest hospital or doctor bill:
- Call Around to Get the Best Price: Yes, you can shop for doctor's costs just as you would a used car! Dr. A may be charging $6,000 for a certain procedure while Dr. B may be charging only $4,000 for the same procedure. Also, learn how to negotiate between the doctors. If you have a certain doctor you want to use, tell them that "Dr. A" down the street is only charging X amount for a procedure and you would like to see if they would match that price. If you are paying cash, usually doctors are willing to negotiate the costs.
- Procedure is Already Done? You can Still Negotiate: Your procedure is done and now you have the hospital or doctor bill that needs paid. Knowing how to negotiate the bill can save you a lot of cash. Ask if you can get 10% off of your doctor or hospital bill. Usually this is an automatic "yes." Next, ask if you can get any more off. The payment clerk may say they will need to talk with their supervisor. Meet with the supervisor and tell them that you have cash and can pay today if they can take 20% off your bill. You may get the whole 20% or maybe 15% and that can be a significant portion depending on what your bill is.
- Make Sure You Get an Itemized Hospital Bill: Why does the hospital bill say you were in the operating room for 61 minutes? Really, they are that good at knowing the exact minutes the room was used for your procedure? What it really means is that they are charging you to use the room for 2 hours. Getting an itemized hospital bill can help you see if the hospital is trying to charge you for more than you got. If you see anything on the bill that you did not receive, or anything "fishy" like the 2 hour room charge for 61 minutes, ask the hospital to correct it. Sometimes hospitals, like any business, just make mistakes and if you don't look for their mistakes you will be paying for it.
- See if Your Doctor Got a Double Payment: Sometimes you will pay your doctor up front for a procedure and your insurance ends up covering it. So, your doctor got paid by you and the insurance company. Your doctor will just send you a check in the mail, right? Maybe, but usually not. And not because they are trying to be deceptive, but probably because they are just pretty busy and they don't have time to check every patient's account for double payments. When you get any statements from your insurance company make sure you did not pay out of pocket for something that the insurance company ended up covering.