Negotiating Medical Bills as a Senior

Paying for medical bills can be a complex process, and you may not have the funds you need to pay for your medical costs from time to time.

You may still have to pay for different fees such as premiums or copayments, even with a good insurance plan. Together, many of these costs will add up to significant amounts, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition. When your medical expenses add up, it can be overwhelming to pay for them, and you may feel the need to negotiate your costs with your medical provider to lower your debt.  

Moreover, make sure that you are aware of your outstanding medical debt to be able to negotiate your medical bills effectively. Being aware of what you owe will help you decide which path is best to negotiate your bills. You should choose a payment plan that allows you to make reasonable and affordable payments for your health care expenses.

Start by talking to staff in the billing department and seek out any discounts that can you can apply to your future expenses. Read the sections below to learn more about these and other tips you can follow for medical bill negotiation and on how you can lower your medical debt.

Familiarizing Yourself with Medical Terms and Coding

By learning more about the medical codes that your health provider uses in your bill, you will have the ability to negotiate your bills better. All health procedures have a unique code that health service providers use in medical bills to indicate the procedure and its cost.

Even though it is rare for health providers to make a mistake in medical codes on your bill, you might be able to adjust some of the codes to lower your bill.  For example, your health provider might have charged you with a more expensive treatment or procedure that the one you received.

You may also find charges for services you did not know were optional or that do not relate to your medical condition. By knowing the medical codes, you would be able to detect these types of mistakes to lower your total bill.

There may also be some errors some of the services you received and how your provider organized them in your bill. Medical offices do not bundle some of the expenses that you incur, which makes your bill more expensive.

From time to time, your health provider may also charge you multiple times for the same services, so make sure that you look for duplicate charges as they can lower your bill significantly. Review your bill for any errors and speak to a service representative directly to see how they can solve the issue.

Besides learning the medical codes on your bills, you should familiarize yourself with the fees for copays and deductible amounts, as well as other health insurance terms. If you notice that any of these fees are more than what they should be on your bill, make sure to speak to a billing representative so that they can make the necessary changes to lower your charges.

But the most important aspect to know is what your medical plan covers. By knowing your insurance coverage, you will understand all your charges and better identify what your health providers are charging you.

Negotiating Your Bills in Person

An effective way to ensure that you succeed when negotiating your medical bills is by doing it in person. Many times, you may have a hard time speaking with a representative through the phone. Not being face to face affects your ability to negotiate a problematic bill.

On the other hand, you may be more successful by speaking to someone in person, where you are able to explain your concerns. Speaking with a polite tone and the right body language may cause the staff member to empathize with you and you will have a better chance to get your medical provider to solve any mistakes in your bill.

Moreover, staff present in the medical department for in-person customer service is often more capable of helping you with any medical coding issues. It is also easier to explain that you need to set up a payment plan to pay off your medical bills when you are doing it in person.

Health providers tend to give you up to two years to pay off your medical expenses. You may be able to negotiate a way to pay off your debts with a payment plan if you are not able to finish paying your bills by its due date.

Try to set a payment plan with reasonable monthly amounts that you can afford and ensure that you will not end up paying more for high-interest rates that plans with longer terms tend to have. It will be easier for you to negotiate these and other terms in person than on the phone.

Make sure that you discuss other important aspects of payment plans besides interest rates, like late fees or any services charges. Keep in mind that you can also set payment plans over the phone and that doing it in person is just a more effective alternative for you to do it.

Looking for Available Discounts

Before your health provider bills you for the services you needed, make sure that you ask them for any potential discounts. For instance, some hospitals and medical offices offer simple discounts when you pay through the phone or online.

Other special discounts you can access include enrolling through a charity care program that will help you save on your medical bills. By enrolling in this program, you may qualify for significant discounts on your medical procedures.

You should ask for discounts any time you can because some doctors do not inform their patients of the many ways that they can save money. Moreover, when asking for a discount, you should specify the services you need and give the billing staff all the details they need to know about your healthcare plan.

The more information you give your service provider about your needs and type of coverage, the easier it will be for them to find any discounts that you may be eligible to receive.