Avoid Medical Bill Sickness

Staying in a hospital can feel like the song in Les Miserables where they charge you if the window sash is down, and charge you if it’s up. Luckily, FiveCentNickle’s got a good writeup on avoiding getting nicked and dimed on your medical expenses.

Tip #1: Negotiate — If you don’t have health insurance, as your doctor for a discount. Apparently only 13% of patients bother doing this but, when they do, the majority receive a discount.
Tip #4: Confirm that tests are necessary — In the interest of covering their butts, it’s possible that doctors will order unnecessary medical tests.
Tip #7: Watch for double billing — It’s not uncommon for hospitals to double bill for certain things. For example, they might charge a daily room rate as well as for sheets and pillows.

Basically, get everything itemized and question anything that seems out of sorts.

Save on Medical Care – Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV [FiveCentNickle]


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  1. bmcgann says:

    Although we are insured, my wife and I got stuck with a $4,000 bill after she had spinal surgery last year. The justification for the bill was completely ridiculous. It was ultimately the hospital’s fault (I’ll spare everyone the long, painful story). I wrote a letter (always a good idea!), and mailed it in. Heard nothing for a while, then the collection calls started. Collection agents are truly the scum of the earth. I asked them if they read my letter, they said they knew nothing about it. They kept calling I kept telling them we weren’t paying. Then one day the hospital called–someone very rational and well spoken, unlike the collection agents. He basically said “Give us $350 and that will be the end of it”. I gladly wrote a check and never heard from them again. Be firm with hospitals–you won’t “Get in trouble” if you don’t pay, provided that you have a logical arguement for it. If it goes on your credit report, you can always explain it to anyone who questions it, again, assuming you have a rational arguement. I would guest-imate that a good percentage, maybe even the majority, of hospital bills to individuals go unpaid.

  2. SpliffHuxtable says:

    Great tip for saving on medical bills!


    I just had a serious heart problem (and I’m only 24)…total cost: $0.

    Drugs costs? $0

    Stay in hospital? $0

    Man, am I a smart shopper or what!? :)

  3. Myron says:

    And how are you supposed to determine for yourself if a test is necessary?

  4. The_Truth says:

    Take your own blood sample, run it under your own spectral analizer, count the medichlorins and voila, youve saved a bunch of money AND missed the fact that you have cancer of the pinky nail-bed.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Simple: Ask.

    From the link:

    “The motivation here is even if they don’t think a particular test is necessary, failure to order it opens the door for future negligence lawsuits. Unless your health insurance is paying for the test, this sort of behavior can have a huge negative impact on your bottom line. And even if you have good health insurance, this sort of stuff will contribute to spiralling premiums and reduced coverage going forward. So the next time your doctor orders a test, ask him/her what they hope to learn from it. Chances are they’ll have a good answer. But if they don’t, you could save yourself some money.”

  6. Special K says:

    Ben you are making me laugh, there is so much about medicine that the average person doesn’t know about that its almost pointless to argue anything here. As even a medical student, I can tell you that for half the tests we’d order on a patient, there’s no point to even trying to explain to them what it’s all about. Keep in mind that you’re probably brighter than the vast majority of people that end up in the hospital. Doctors do not order tests with very low specificity unless there is a high pretest probability of suspicion.

  7. I can tell you that for half the tests we’d order on a patient, there’s no point to even trying to explain to them what it’s all about.

    This is one of the things I hate about doctors: their refusal to explain anything. How hard is it to say, “We’re checking you for ‘x'” or, “We’re checking your levels of ‘y’ and ‘z'”?

  8. acambras says:

    I agree with Rectilinear Propagation. It’s attitudes like Special K’s that make my mom call MDs M-Deities.

  9. Special K says:

    thanks for the compliment. again, go read my post. i’m not talking about anyone in particular, but…. average intelligence is a lot lower than you think.