Tips for saving money at the doctor
Thankfully, I have health insurance that will cover much of it, but I am still responsible for a portion. Unfortunately, this provider doesn’t accept coupons or run sales. But there are still ways to avoid paying more than I should.
I would never suggest delaying urgent medical treatment to look for the best price or deal, but there are several steps that I take after any procedure to ensure that I am not paying more than I need to.
The first thing I do when I get any medical bill that’s more than a simple office visit is to ask the provider for a line item or detailed bill. Many medical bills have charges lumped together and it’s not possible to tell what is being charged.
There are just charges for surgery, charges for pharmacy and charges for supplies. When you are being charged $15 for an over-the-counter tablet, it’s important to know if you are paying for three when you only took two.
The medical provider should provide a breakdown of all the charges individually so it can be reviewed before paying. Paying any bill without knowing the line-item charges is never a good idea.
The second step is to review the Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company. Compare it line by line to the charges from the insurance company. Any items that the insurance company rejected or didn’t fully cover should be investigated.
Recently, our dental insurance denied a bill from my daughter’s orthodontist because it was filed under the practice’s name and not the doctor’s. After a call to the orthodontist’s office the claim was corrected, re-filed and covered according to our policy.
If there are charges not covered by the insurance company because it’s excluded from the policy, asking for a discount can reduce the bill.
Our insurance company denied a dental claim because it was excluded from coverage and we owed the entire balance.
I called the provider’s office and asked if we paid the entire balance in full, would they accept the “reasonable and customary” value that the insurance company had set.
Doctor’s and dentists charge one amount and the insurance companies reduce this to an “allowed amount” or what they consider reasonable. If the provider is in that insurance’s network, they generally have to write off the difference and not bill the patient.
We were able to save $148 by asking the provider to accept the discount the insurance would have requested.
Medical bills are often expensive, but checking what you are charged for and asking for a discount can reduce the amount you have to pay.