As out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, paying for care can seem overwhelming. It may be easy to overlook the simplest – and most direct – means of accomplishing this difficult task: negotiating with your doctor. Although this may sound daunting, doctors are aware that out-of-pocket costs are rising and that many people are uninsured, and fully expect questions about costs. In fact, according to one survey, a surprising 61 percent of patients who asked their providers for a discount received one, so don’t be afraid to ask!
To help you prepare for this conversation, The New York Times had Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren of the University of Pennsylvania to answer commonly asked questions about negotiating with your healthcare provider. The Q + A covers a number of issues, such as when to bring the topic of cost reduction up or what homework you should do prior to the appointment. There are many things that you can research, such as the average price of a service, which will give you some leverage in negotiating with providers.
One of the main points to be taken from this Q + A is that doing your own research can go a long way in saving you money. Dr. Kullgren refers to healthcarebluebook.com to help you find average costs of particular services, which you will be able to use as a tool in negotiating a reasonable price with your provider. It is also important to be aware of other opportunities, such as free/low-cost health facilities, which could be a federally-funded center or provided by a university. We post these resources as we find them, but for now, two entries, here and here can help you get started in your efforts to save money.
Here, Stephen Meyers, M.D. offers additional insight on how to approach negotiating costs with your medical providers.