Posted by Naomi Nessim, July 24, 2017 (last updated on July 23, 2019)
The healthcare system can be complicated. It often feels overwhelming. Between headlines and legislation, finding and understanding the right insurance, securing a doctor’s appointment, navigating and paying bills, we have been led to believe that we are small participants in healthcare. However, upon taking a step back and really thinking about our role in healthcare, we can all agree that we are no small players. After all, we are talking about our health and our bodies.
When it comes to paying (sometimes exorbitant) medical bills, remember that you are not powerless and you do have a say when it comes to what medical institutions are asking you to pay.
There are plenty of ways to find discounts at the doctor’s office. Here are our favorite three.
1. Educate Yourself About Your Medical Bills and Rights
No matter how busy you are, always take time after you get a medical bill to review it and make sure you understand everything.
If there are terms and phrases you don’t understand, Google them. If it’s still unclear, sit down with someone at the primary clinic, urgent care clinic or hospital, and ask about each clause you don’t understand. Do the same with your insurance company representative.
Learning about what every clause means is one a way to educate yourself about your rights. Read your insurance policy. Research healthcare laws.
Eventually, you’ll be able to notice when someone makes mistakes or intends to accidentally overcharge you when your insurance plan indicates you can get a cheaper deal. Or, better yet, you’ll know what you can get in advance, and be sure to ask for it way before you sign up to any deal.
2. Ask for Discounts
Primary clinics, hospitals, and urgent care clinics are all financial institutions. Just like your favorite store or restaurant, they want your business.
Therefore, sometimes they offer discounts and other special offers, or they run cross-organizational promotions with partners.
Despite these “deals,” they don’t do the best job at advertising all the ways you can get a discount, so never shy away from asking. It’s possible that booking an appointment or making a payment online could give you a small discount, or perhaps that bringing your whole family on as patients could make it worth your while.
Similarly, if you need to get more than one procedure done, consider doing everything in one place if the facility is willing to give you a package deal.
3. Compare and Negotiate
With technology on the rise, you can finally know what your out of pocket medical bill will be before you get any treatment. Therefore, before you sign up to get anything done, get a quote in writing from multiple primary or urgent care clinics, or from multiple hospitals.
If you’re getting more than one procedure done, get a quote for each one, plus a combined (hopefully discounted) quote for everything together if you get it all done at one place.
Then, compare the offers you got. Head over to the 2-3 places who got you the best offers and start negotiating. You might be able to save a little more as medical organizations compete for the right to help you heal.
Healthcare is about taking care of yourself, that means more than joining an aerobics class or taking yourself to a primary or urgent care clinic when you have the flu. Sometimes it means taking care of your bills, so you have enough reserves to prioritize your health and wellbeing long term.
We at Solv hope that everybody is navigating healthcare courageously and proficiently. Whatever tactic you choose, remember that the most important thing is to stay proactive when it comes to your health and thinking twice about what you are paying is a great start.