As a personal finance blogger, I have written about many ways to save money in the past. I’ve written about saving money at the veterinarian’s office, in your mailbox, and even in the shower for heaven’s sake. However, one thing I have never written about before is how to save money on medical bills.
That’s because until recently I thought it was difficult, if not impossible.
Luckily, I have recently come to realize that there may be a few little known ways to save money on medical bills. You just have to know what they are and check it out.
3 Unique Ways to Save Money on Medical Bills
Don’t be afraid to question your medical bills. As many of you know, my hubby and I adopted a newborn baby over the summer. Because adoption is such an expensive proposition, we have been heavily scrutinizing the bills that come our way. So when our daughter’s birth mother called us up a few weeks ago frantic because the hospital that she had delivered at was threatening to send her to collections, I had her fax us the bill in question. It turned out to be a bill for $776.00 from a pathologist. As in, the kind of doctor who reads biopsies and pap smears and stuff like that.
I was immediately confused. As far as I was aware, our daughter had no services performed by a pathologist while she was in the hospital. So I called the number on the bill, which turned out to be the billing office at the pathologist’s office. The woman that I spoke to informed me (rather rudely) that she had no idea what services had been performed, all she knew was that someone had submitted a bill for $776 and it was her job to collect the money.
Obviously that answer was not good enough for me. 🙂 So I called the billing office at the hospital to see if they could clear it up. They informed me that they had no idea either, and told me to call the pathologist’s office back and “tell them to work a little harder” to figure out what the bill was for. I made several more calls over several more days to inquire again as to what services had been performed. No one could tell me.
My backup plan if I could not resolve the issue by talking to them was going to be to give them our daughter’s insurance information. However, our insurance loves any excuse to deny coverage for something and I had a sneaky feeling that if I gave the pathologist’s office our insurance info it would end up getting denied and then we would get stuck with a crazy bill for mysterious unknown services.
Then I got busy and was not able to call them for about a week. One week later I called and was informed that the account had been “resolved,” and there was now a zero balance on it. Once again, no one could tell me why or how. I am positive that the birth mother did not send them $776. I really have no idea what happened, but I would be willing to guess that my asking all the questions had something to do with it.
Ask for an Early Pay or Cash Discount
This one is an awesome little nugget that I happened to stumble upon by accident a few months ago. Did you know that some hospital/clinic billing offices will offer a discount if you pay cash? If you have insurance I know you’re probably thinking, “Well, it goes through my insurance and then I get a bill for whatever is not covered and THEN I pay in cash. Does that count?”
I had no idea what the answer to that question was. But I put this one to the test a couple days ago when we received a bill in the mail for $1100 for our daughter’s hospitalization in late July (she was having some breathing issues and was hospitalized overnight, I think mainly as a precaution because she was so young- only 4 weeks old at the time). The total bill was much higher than $1100, but after insurance covered everything that they were going to cover, this was the amount that was left for us to pay.
I had been tipped off by a friend over the summer that this particular hospital in our community would give a 10% discount if you paid within the first 30 days, or in cash. Of course the hospital does not advertise this! But with this knowledge I called up the billing office, and after I had given the billing person my name and the account number, I informed the rep that I had been advised to call them and “ask for the 10% early pay discount.”
And then I held my breath.
What followed was a long pause. Or maybe it wasn’t that long, but when I was waiting to hear an indication of whether I might just be able to pull off a $110 discount here, it felt like forever. Finally she came back on the line and said, “Ok, then your balance is $990.”
Woohoo!!! Ok, we still had to pay $990, but I was thrilled to learn that the 10% discount was a real thing. Don’t think I’m not going to use THAT one again in the future!! And of course I paid the balance of the bill with our Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard®, in order to earn awesome travel rewards. Don’t worry, we keep a special savings account where we sock away money for expenses like this, so we can always pay the bill in full.
Did you notice what I did there? I got a cash discount. But I didn’t pay in cash, I took the opportunity to rock out some credit card rewards. Bonus!
Employee Discount (If Applicable)
The last way that I recently learned of that you can possibly save money on medical bills is something that came up because of my own mother’s recent surgery. My mother is a nutritionist and works at a hospital, and she recently had shoulder surgery at a different hospital in the same system. She will get an additional 20% discount on her bill after insurance, simply because she works for that hospital system. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me! Those of you out there who work for any sort of healthcare system should definitely look into this one.
These are just a few innovative ways that I (and my family members) have recently used to save money on medical bills. But I want to hear from you! Are there any other ways that you’ve used to save money on medical bills?
Suggested Reading: A great book very relevant to this topic is 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care: Tips to Help You Spend Smart and Stay Healthy. That’s 98 more ways to save money on medical costs 🙂
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