Discover more from Unsolicited Advice from Erin Lowry
Medical bills: How can I lower the cost?
The cost of healthcare is a pain point for most Americans, but there are some ways we can try to reduce the cost of going to the doctor.
“I’m trying to take my health seriously, but I’m getting really anxious about the cost of going to the doctor. How can I lower the cost of medical bills and debts?”
Ask if you can get a discount for paying in cash!
**Whoops, of course that tweet has a typo that you can’t fix after it’s posted! But it was 10% off a $3,000 bill.***
Yup, I saved $300 by paying in cash. I don’t know about your credit cards, but none of mine offer cash back that would’ve come even close! I guess cash still is king, sometimes.
I learned about this little discount just by actually reading the intake paper work when I went to a new dentist for my regular cleaning. It mentioned offering 5% off if you pay in cash.
A couple weeks later, I went for an appointment to start Invisalign and brought cash with me for the payment. I asked at the end if I could get a discount for paying in cash (note that I didn’t mention a number.) The receptionist went and checked with the doctor and came back to say, yup, I can give you 10% off!
This is actually a fairly common practice and doesn’t always require carrying a wad of cash. Some places will accept Venmo or similar payment apps as cash.
Health Savings Account
Available if you have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and potentially triple-tax advantaged in many states.
No Surprises Act
Another fact worth knowing: your rights.
There’s only so much power we have within the healthcare industry, but 2022 gave us a small gift. The No Surprises Act became federal law and is supposed to help ban many unexpected medical bills. The law focuses more on surprises for out-of-network costs, especially if you’re at an in-network facility. It can also help those who don’t have insurance coverage to get a good faith estimate prior to receiving medical care. If the bill ends up being $400 or more over the estimated cost, then you can dispute it. Granted, the good faith estimate can still be bonkers expensive, but at least it gives you a tiny morsel of power.
Already get the bill? Start with asking for an itemized copy and go over every detail to make sure that a) you actually received that service and b) discuss possible coding errors if your insurance denies to cover something your doctor said was medically necessary.
Want to learn even more? Paid subscribers have access to strategies for disputing and negotiating medical debt in this newsletter from May.
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