Liza emailed in the following tip:
You and your readers have been so helpful to me in the past, I just wanted to share a discovery I made in the hopes it will help other families.
In the past, when I have received medical bills, I have always just paid them.
Last week, I got a bill from a medical lab for an $80 blood test my doctor ordered as part of my routine annual checkup. Routine checkups are supposed to be covered in full by my health insurance, so I called to ask what was going on. They told me that the test wouldn’t be covered because I’m not 30 yet — even though I will be in 6 months!
I asked to appeal the insurance company’s decision, and it was surprisingly easy to do over the phone. When we finished my appeal, the health insurance person said, “Well, if we do cover this cost, we’ll only pay the lab $27.22, not $80. Why don’t you call them and offer to pay $27.22?”
I called the lab and offered to pay $27.22, rather than $80. They immediately agreed! Also, if the insurance company accepts my appeal, I’ll get my money back in about 60 days. If not, I’m only out $27.22, not $80.
Thirty minutes on the phone saved my family at least $52.78.
In the future, when I get a medical bill, I’m going to:
1. Call my insurance and ask them to cover it.
2. Appeal it if they don’t.
3. Ask how much they WOULD pay the provider, if they DID cover it.
4. Call the provider, and offer to pay them that (lower) amount.
I wish I had known this years ago! Health insurance and medical companies don’t play by the same rules as everyone else — prices seem to be VERY negotiable. The bottom line is, don’t pay your medical bills without calling to see if they’ll accept a lower payment.
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