When it comes to medical expenses, do you – or anyone you know, for that matter – find them to be surprisingly high on occasion? Do you ever wish that you could cut those costs just a bit to free up more money for other expenses? Or, better yet, for savings?
Many of us would answer yes to at least one of those questions.
A recent article from Yahoo! Finance offers a strategy that may help make that happen. Apparently, one person was able to save $1,000 off a $4,000 medical bill by making a phone call and using this scripted dialogue:
“Hey, my friend told me that if I offer to pay the bill in full over the phone, I get a 25 percent discount.”
That’s it. No negotiating involved. He got the hospital, anesthesiologist, and pediatricians to reduce the charges associated with the birth of his child.
It’s interesting how cash is king, and immediate payment reaps a benefit, even when dealing with medical professionals.
I had always assumed that there wasn’t much wiggle room when it came to medical bills. That perception changed when I had some dental work that needed to be done some years back. After years of having no cavities, my soft drink habits caught up to me and I found out that I had multiple cavities and needed a root canal. While in the dentist chair at that visit, I casually asked about tooth whitening (mostly to distract myself from the cavity situation). The dental assistant and I joked that if I got all the work done, they could throw in free teeth whitening for a future appointment. It was almost something like wheeling and dealing for health care.
When you think about doctors, dentists, and other health professionals, why should they be perceived so differently than other business owners? For example, if we buy a car, we haggle. If we want someone to do handywork around the house, we negotiate. Let’s face it: while most prices of goods and services are “fixed”, many are clearly negotiable. So why can’t we try to “negotiate” health care?
In terms of the specific situation described above, I think the guy took a novel approach, and commend him for saving $1,000 just by simple effort. What I don’t agree with is the specific language used about a “friend” telling him he would get a discount if he paid by phone. Is that entirely – or even partially true? Not sure about that.
A more genuine, above board way to pursue the discount would be to say: “If I pay my bill right now, over the phone, I would like a 25% discount”. Yes, I”m nitpicking words, but I’m a stickler for integrity in such situations.
Anyway, the bottom line is that this example illustrates how many things can be negotiable – including a seemingly non-negotiable expenditure such as health care. The thing is, you have to take the initiative to make it happen.
What do you think about negotiating healthcare costs? Would consider taking this type of approach to reduce expenses?