Blog: Want lower medical expenses? Negotiate.

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Most people don’t realize they can and should try to negotiate the costs of their doctor and hospital visits. You can even shop for the best deals on hearing aids, eyeglasses and your prescriptions to find the lowest price in town. As the expression goes, “the worst they can do is say no,” so why not see how much you can save?

Doctors and hospitals set their own prices, which may or may not have an effect on you, depending on what type of insurance you have and what rates the insurer has negotiated with your providers. If a test or procedure at your doctor/hospital is completely covered by your insurance company, the price your doctor or the hospital charges might not matter to you. However, if you have any test or procedure that is going to hit your deductible or is not fully covered by insurance, the amount charged that comes out of your pocket will matter a great deal. 

If you’re going in for a routine test like an MRI or procedure like a colonoscopy, call around to several doctors and hospitals and find out what prices they would charge you. If you are insured, make certain you understand who is in your insurer’s network and the details of what your policy will cover for your specific procedure. Having a test performed in a doctor’s office compared to a hospital can be the difference of hundreds of dollars, depending on how the insurer views it. By knowing what your policy covers and what it might not, you’ll have a better understanding of out-of-pocket costs and where you can potentially save money.

Some prescription drugs are extremely expensive, even with a prescription drug insurance plan. Call the pharmacies in your area and compare costs. You might be able to save significantly. Do you take a medication regularly? It never hurts to check out the drug manufacturer’s web site to see if they offer any discounts or frequent-user savings cards.

Remember, you can negotiate the price of medical bills after you’ve received treatment, too. Americans overpay billions in bills we don’t owe every year. Make sure you check bills carefully and always ask to see if the costs can be lowered.

Insurance Essentials is written by Sarah O’Leary, CEO and Founder of ExHale Health. The opinions expressed here are exclusively those of the author. If you or someone you know needs help with health insurance questions or information, go to exhalehealth.com, facebook.com/exhalehealth or call 800.381.4741.

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