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This might sound too good to be true, but you can save 50-60% on your medical bills with minimal effort.
A few months ago, we received a $21.20 bill from the hospital for Bilirubin testing (jaundice test for baby RB40.) If I wasn’t so
cheap frugal, I would have sent them a check without thinking about it. It’s only 20 bucks right?
Instead, I ignored the bill for a while and figured that they’ll bill insurance. No luck though, the bill came again last month. I called the hospital to see why they were billing us instead of the insurance and they said they didn’t have the insurance information.
Tip #1 – if you have insurance. Make sure every lab/doctor office/ nurse station has that information.
I gave them our insurance information and the lab proceeded to bill the insurance company. This year, I picked a Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) and we just ran out of HRA (company contribution) money recently. Fortunately, I still have some HSA money left. This is pre-tax money contributed to a Health Saving Account by the employee. Sorry about the alphabet soup, let’s get on with the post here. Long story short – we’re suppose to pay this $21.20 bill out of pocket.
All is not lost though, we received a $6.82 discount on the bill by going through insurance. This is due to the insurance’s arrangement with the provider.
At this point, my old non-frugal self would have been happy to pay $14.38 and send a check off. However, the new frugal retirebyforty called the hospital and asked for an incentive discount. As you know, our health care system is in a lot of trouble and the hospital has very high uncollected bill rate. They lost $34 billion on unpaid bills in 2007. They will gladly give you a 5 to 10% discount just by asking over the phone.
Tip #2 – ask for an incentive discount.
After the phone call, the bill received a further 10% discount to $12.94.
Lastly, I used the pre-tax money in the HSA to pay the bill. This is another 28% discount for me. It’s a bit tricky to calculate, but if I use post-tax money instead I would have paid an equivalent of ???. Suffice to say my algebra is a bit rusty and it’s a bit too late for me to bust out the text book. I’ll just take $12.94 * 28% discount = $9.32.
Tip #3 – use HSA or FSA to pay the bill if possible.
Closing: I paid an equivalent of $9.32 on a bill of $21.20 for a total of 56% discount! This works for bigger bills too as long as you have some money left in HSA or FSA.
What do you think? Do you ask for a discount from the hospital? From what I read, there is an even bigger incentive discount if you don’t have insurance and offer to pay the whole bill right away.
related post: Reducing Healthcare Cost by Providing Better Care.