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How to negotiate medical bills

Four simple steps to negotiate down those big hospital and doctor bills

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After dealing with a health problem, it can feel like salt in the wound to get a massive medical bill in the mail, but you’re not alone – forty-one percent of folks in the U.S. are dealing with healthcare debt.  

Here at WorkMoney, we’ve got your back. We’ve learned that you can negotiate medical bills – and it works for most folks. More than 90% of patients can bring down those payments. Here’s how:

Step 1: Become a detective for your bill

First things first, get an itemized bill from your provider. It’s like a receipt for your hospital stay; it should include a list of every charge for every service you received. You'll be surprised how often things get mixed up! 

Take a close look and keep an eye out for things like duplicate charges or fees for services you didn't actually get. If you find anything fishy, don’t hesitate to bring it up with the billing department. Ask them to correct it and update what you owe. 

Remember, even if your bill looks error-free, you still might be able to haggle your way to a lower bill. Ask about things like payment plans, financial aid, or even programs that forgive medical debt. Hospitals often have options for folks who can't meet those initial charges.

Step 2: Check in with your insurance company

Make sure that your insurance company is doing what they’re supposed to do and paying what they said they would. Information about your insurance coverage and copays should be easy to find on your insurer's website. Alternatively, you can call their customer service or check your explanation of benefits (EOB). 

If you're facing an issue with your insurer not covering a procedure or not paying what they should, speak up! Contact them and ask them to review your coverage. If you still feel like you're being treated unfairly, it's time for step 3.

Step 3: Appeal with a professional

Just like a good friend who has your back, a patient advocate or a medical billing advocate is there to stand up for you. They help patients to navigate the healthcare maze and handle issues with their medical bills or treatment. They're your allies, helping you to get heard and find answers. You can find a patient advocate on your provider’s website, or just Google "patient advocate" and your location. 

Step 4: Explore debt forgiveness programs

Medical debt forgiveness programs may sound too good to be true, but they do exist and they can really reduce your debt. Eligibility varies based on things like family size, income, and other financial aspects. There are several ways to get your debt forgiven: 

  • Hospital Financial Forgiveness Programs: More than half of the hospitals in the U.S. are nonprofits, which means they have to offer something called “charity care programs” to keep that status. These programs can help lower medical bills for lots of folks. Figuring it out and filling out the paperwork can be really overwhelming, though, so we did some research and we found a partner that we trust that can help: Dollar For
  • Specialized Organizations: There are charities and foundations that offer medical debt relief. Some cater to specific conditions or population groups.

We've got your back at WorkMoney

We don't want to see you struggling with medical bills. Use our financial resources to trim down those medical costs and start working on getting rid of that medical debt. 

Discover all the ways we're helping you save money on everyday expenses like insurance, gas, and groceries. We've got a bunch of resources available for our members, all designed to help you manage your debt and save on the things that make up everyday life. We’re here to help you master your financial life and make it sparkle!