The past couple of years have been tough ones at our house, and we've ended up spending weeks in the hospital for a variety of surgeries, births and other medical issues. We've been spending a lot of money on our family's health care costs. In fact, if we hadn't had health insurance we probably would have ended up paying in excess of $300,000 over the past 3 years.
Even with health insurance our hospital and health care bills have still been in the tens of thousands of dollars – and if we hadn't found this money saving tip, it would have been much more!
What is the tip? We ask for a discount on our health care!
Save Money On Health Care By Asking For A Discount
A couple of years ago my wife was in the hospital for a unexpected medical emergency. We ended up amassing some pretty large bills, and when it was all said and done, we had several thousand dollars worth of care to pay for.
A friend of ours told us that they had found out through another friend that often if you just ask the billing department at the hospital for a discount, or tell them that you need some help paying your bill, they're often willing to work with you and give you discounts in the range of 10-20% or more!
Smart Money Magazine explains why they're often open to hearing from you, and why they'll give a discount:
When it comes to getting paid, hospitals have their work cut out for them. Medical bills are a major cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., and when collectors are put on the case, they take up to 25% of what is reclaimed, according to Mark Friedman, founder of billing consultant Premium Healthcare Services. That leaves room for some bargaining.Take Logan Roberts. The 26-year-old had started work as a business analyst near Atlanta but had no insurance when he was rushed to the ER for an appendectomy. The uninsured can pay three times more for procedures, says Nora Johnson, senior director of Medical Billing Advocates of America; Roberts was billed $21,000. “I was like, holy cow!” he says. “That’s four times my net worth.”
After advice from advocacy group The Access Project, Roberts spoke with hospital administrators, telling them he couldn’t pay in full. Hospitals frequently work with patients, offering payment plans or discounts. It paid off for Roberts, whose bill was sliced to $4,100 — 20% of the original.
So basically it boils down to this: Hospitals are willing to give discounts or help people pay for their bills because it's cheaper for them than having to put a bill collector on the case, especially when the collector will take up to 25% of what is collected. It is in the hospital's best interest to work with those who are trying to pay their bills.
When we asked for a discount on my wife's hospital bills we ended up saving about 10% off of our total bill, which came out to several hundred dollars. Not bad for a single phone call!
Save Money Everywhere By Asking For A Discount
The fact is that hospitals aren't the only place that you can ask for a cash discount, or for a discount for paying in full. For example, many electronics stores have wiggle room on their prices which means that you can usually ask for a discount on the item, or work deals where you buy two items, and get one for free. Just ask for a manager or someone in authority who can make the decision.
The moral of the story is that it never hurts to ask for a discount.
- Ask for a discount or help in paying.
- Ask for it in writing – or for a new bill to be sent.
- Pay in cash in full.
Have you ever saved money at the hospital or elsewhere just by asking for a discount? Tell us your story or thoughts on the topic in the comments.