One of the great truths about life is that we can deal with just about anything. The recession has led to a revival in the noble art of haggling, and it is possible to take advantage of this almost everywhere. The worst that can happen when you ask is that the other person will say no, and this applies even on health care costs.
Now we all know about the rising costs of health care, and many of us worry about being buried under a pile of bills. The good news, though, is that you can sometimes haggle your costs down. The October 2011 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine offers some insight into how you can negotiate on some of your health care bills, and save money. Some of the tips include:
- Let your health care provider know that cost matters: Be up front with your health care provider about cost. This might mean that your health care provider can prescribe less expensive medications, or perhaps hold off on unnecessary (and costly) tests.
- Ask for a discount: You might be surprised at the discounts you can get. My dentist provides a discount when you pay upfront, without going through insurance. Many doctors are willing to provide such discounts as well. Consumer Reports also puts out the Healthcare Blue Book, which can provide you with guidance on what different health care services should cost. Some hospitals and treatment centers also offer hardship discounts for those who can’t afford services. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, so you might as well ask about a discount.
- Work out a payment plan: Sometimes, even if you can’t get a discount, you can work out a deal that allows you to repay your obligation over time. Let the health care provider know that you want to pay your obligation, and propose a time frame for making payments. In some cases, you might even be able to avoid paying interest, or pay a very low rate of interest.
- Shop around: Especially if you are having an elective procedure, you should shop around. Ask for detailed cost information, and compare rates from different providers. Make sure that you are getting a good value — while being on the look out for those who cut corners or offer something too good to be true.
Other Ways to Save on Health Care Costs
While making a deal can be helpful when it comes to saving money on health care, there are other things you can do to limit your costs. One of the most important things you can do is to live healthy. Good health will save you more in health costs than you might believe. When you have good health, you are less likely to need the services of a health care provider, and you are less likely to need a great deal of medication.
You can also consider a Health Savings Account or some other tax advantaged account. You can save up for health care costs, and you might be able to catch a break on your insurance premiums to boot. Just be aware that HSAs aren’t for everyone, and you may need to evaluate your individual situation first.