Many patients write to Patients Rising with concerns about the cost of care. No one wants to cut corners when it comes to their health. So, let’s talk about a couple of ways to find better prices for healthcare.
BETTER PRICES FOR HEALTHCARE: NEGOTIATE
It may sound strange, but doctors and hospitals can work out lower rates for you if you are uninsured. They won’t offer it of course, so you’ll have to ask. You can often arrange a payment in advance that will commonly be cheaper that what you would pay after a procedure. Even if you end up needing emergency care, a hospital can often work with you to lower the overall bill, but again, you have to ask.
- A doctor or hospital charges a certain amount for a service. When they accept an insurance plan they are “accepting” a lower payment than what they normally charge. You too can ask for a lower rate.
- You can often qualify for discounts if you pay in advance, pay in full, or pay within a certain number of days. Again, ask about this.
SOME THINGS TO ASK:
- Can I qualify for any discounts?
- What will the total charges be for this procedure?
- Can I pay at a lower rate for this procedure?
BETTER PRICES FOR HEALTHCARE: SHOP AROUND
Healthcare is a business. Among many other things, that means that some doctors or hospitals charge differently for the same services. There is also a big difference between going to an Urgent Care Facility and going to an Emergency Room (ER is more expensive). One doctor 20-minutes away in one direction may have significantly different rates that one 20-minutes in the other direction. Call and ask for rates.
Finding out the difference in costs between providers can be overwhelming. Fortunately, others have done a lot of the hard work already.
- Healthcare Bluebook helps you shop for providers based on quality and cost.
- Fairhealthconsumer.org collects estimated costs for healthcare expenses in-network.
- New Choice Health compares the cost of medical procedures.
- Hospital Compare, which is run by Medicare.gov can show you what services are available near you.
Healthcare and how we use it is always changing. In order to succeed as a patient it takes work. One way to measure success is by finding better prices for healthcare. We at Patients Rising will continue to show you the resources that can help make that work a little easier.
Jim Sliney Jr. is a Registered Medical Assistant and a Columbia University trained Writer/Editor who creates education and advocacy materials for patient support groups. He has worked closely with several rare disease communities. Jim also coordinates the patient content for PatientsRising and collaborates with other writers to hone their craft. He’s a native New Yorker where he lives with his wife and all their cats. Connections: Twitter Quora Email