How to negotiate a discount on medical bills
When I submitted my upcoming medical need to Samaritan Ministries*** I received a list of tips on how to negotiate a discount on hospital or other medical bills.
These tips can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they are members of Samaritan Ministries, so I'm sharing them here.
Suggested Procedure for Negotiating a Reduction in Medical Bills
- Pray that God will help you to be a witness with each call you make, and that the bills will be reduced for His glory and the good of His Kingdom.
- Ask for the supervisor in the Patients Accounts office for each provider. You must speak to the peron who has the authority to make the decision to reduce the bill. Don't be dismayed when the first person you talk to says, "We don't give discounts." If you can negotiate the price of a new or used car, you can negotiate the price of a medical bill.
- Be sure that the provider understands you do not have insurance; you are a "self-pay" patient.
- Many hospitals have a sliding fee scale based on your income level. Be sure to ask about this.
- If you are a Christian worker, ask if the doctor or hospital has an automatic discount for clergy and Christian workers. Many do.
- Say to them, "By what percentage would you consider reducing this bill?" Then wait for them to respond. There are no high-pressure tactics needed. Just simply ask.
- If they still have not given a discount, they might if they're offered cash. Hospital and doctors often give discounts of up to 30% if the bills are paid promptly in cash.
- Say to them, "If we can arrange to get 70% of this bill to you in cash within 30 days, will you accept that as payment in full?" Again, just wait for them to respond.
- If you are still refused a discount, politely ask for that person's supervisor and repeat steps 1-8 with that supervisor. If you move up the chain of authority far enough and are politely persistent, the chances are very good that you will get a discount.
There are also services that will help you negotiate a discount on larger bills. Samaritan recommends The Karis Group, which seems to be a free service. The Karis Group has also partnered with Christian Financial Ministries to provide a service which is not free, but is guaranteed to save you significant money on larger bills, making it very worthwhile. We have no experience with either service, but Dave Ramsey thinks highly of them and his recommendation means a lot to money-smart people.
***Would you like to know more about Samaritan Ministries? We have been happy members for years. You can read about our experiences with Samaritan on my personal blog. If you decide to join Samaritan Ministries, please tell them KimC sent you.