It was only last year that I began enrollment in the Medicare program. In the two years prior to my becoming eligible for Medicare I was a cash paying patient— the cost of medical insurance even with a high deductible was out of reach. I quickly discovered that most physician offices were willing to negotiate the cost of providing healthcare to me. Following are some tips, which if you are uninsured or underinsured can help you reduce your own healthcare costs.
You can negotiate many medical bills, healthcare providers are often willing to give you discounts. Are you aware that the high fees charged to insurance companies by your physician have absolutely no relation to what your physician receives from the insurance company? For instance a new patient visit may be billed to the insurance company for $175 but, the doctor’s office accepts a negotiated rate of $70 from the insurance provider. On average insurance companies only pay about 40 percent of the doctors posted fee.
How to get a discount At the Doctors Office
When you call a physician’s office to make an appointment make sure you tell the receptionist, “I am a cash paying patient. I do not have insurance so I will pay the bill on my own. How much will my office visit cost? What do you charge for lab work? What sort of discounts does the office give for private pay patients?”
It is likely that the receptionist can only give you the posted office policy. If this is the case ask to speak to the office manager. If you have an opportunity to speak with the office manager make sure that you sound knowledgeable. Remind the manager you know fees quoted to you are not the same as the lower fees accepted from insurance companies, tell the manager that you will pay your bill promptly.
It’s a good idea to speak to the doctor during your exam about discounts. Most physicians will send you back to the office manager who will give you the discount rates.
By doing this when I had no insurance I was usually charged 35 percent to 40 percent lower fees than the doctor charged the insurance companies.
Today most doctors do not have in office laboratories and send their patients to a “reference” laboratory. Most of these laboratories charge lower fees for cash paying patients. However, many doctors have negotiated even lower rates for their patients than the laboratories posted rates. Check with your doctor’s office to see if they have an arrangement with a specific lab. If they don’t try the same negotiating process you did with your doctor with the laboratory.
Remember, asking the right questions what you make your appointment to see the doctor might lead to lower health care costs for you. It worked great for me and when I was eligible for Medicare I was able to stay with the compassionate physician’s office that provided me great care at a discounted price.