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Major Medical Bills:How We Save Money Part 1

The “Health Care Debate” is being talked about everywhere. While I have no desire to have that debate here on Coupon Katie I do think this might be a good time to share some of the lessons I have learned in the last two years.

Between being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and giving birth we have learned a lot about saving money on medical expenses.

1. Realize you are a health care consumer. This was a major shift for me. Viewing providers and my insurance company through the eyes of a consumer and not just a recipient.
It doesn’t always sound right to say it out loud but health care is a business and you are a consumer. Yes, practitioners save lives and make us healthy, a noble calling, but it is still a business. They have preformed a service and in the end you will get a bill they need you to pay.

2.Get to really know your health insurance plan. An overwhelming task, believe me I know, but it is very important.
Be aware of exactly what is covered and what is not.
Know if there are different benefits for pick up pharmacies or home delivery. This was a major one for us. In the beginning we were going to have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for my medicines each month and then wait to be reimbursed. This is not the case with home delivery.
Be aware of time limits and the appeals process for denied claims.

3.Do not be afraid to call your insurance company and ask questions. Again you are their client.

4. Do not be afraid to negotiate bills. My first MRI was not covered by my insurance company. We got a bill for over $6,000.  I called to ask if we could at least get the same rate my insurance company would have gotten (about half as much.)  They initially said no. I asked to speak to an accounts manager and explained I would be having at least one of these a year.  I asked if we could work out a better rate, if not  I would be finding somewhere else to have them.
The hospital where I had baby #3 had a fabulous offer, if you pay your bill in full you get 10% off. We had budgeted money to pay for the birth so the 10% savings was hundreds of dollars.
You never know, so ask.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if that test/procedure is really necessary. Once my doctor understood we would be responsible for a large portion of the bill for any tests or procedures he was a little less aggressive in ordering them. (I sometimes think practitioners take it for granted that insurance will cover things. )  I am confident I am still getting great care but the benefits of a test are now weighed more carefully.

*As I started writing I realized how much I had to say so I divided the post. Stayed tuned for part two. If you have any ideas or experience on saving on health care please leave a comment and share.

Comments

  1. Hey Katie,
    I have found that most health care providers, including hospitals, labs, etc., (actually every place I have asked) are willing to give you 10% off if you pay your bill in full.

    You can also save money (sometimes even make money) when you pick up your Rx at a pharmacy and use those Rx coupons that come in the Sunday paper. I have seen the Rx coupons for both Target and Kmart (usually for a $10 gift card) and every now and then for Kroger (usually for $25 in groceries). CVS is wonderful and accepts competitors Rx coupons (although not Kroger because it says it is for groceries and not a gift card, even though it amounts to the same thing). You just need to read the coupon and see if it says for a new or transferred Rx. If you manage your prescriptions well, you can get them filled and get a gift card. Right now (only until Sept 4), Kroger is having a deal where if you transfer any Rx to them, you will get $25 on your Kroger card for groceries – don’t even need a coupon. Pretty good deal! There are some restrictions if you get help from the government so you have to read the fine print on the coupons.

    Thanks for all your helpful tips as always!

  2. Hey Katie – Thanks for the reminder for me as we move to a new state/job/insurance plan. I have to really do my homework so we get the best care when we get there!

  3. Thanks for the information – valuable ways to save money. #4 is particularly great advice to save money and negotiate lower bills. There are new online services like PaymentClinic.com that are fast, easy and free to help you negotiate a lower medical bill and save time and money.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Here are the next few things I learned over the past two year dealing with a lot of medical bills and a lot of paperwork. If you missed part one you can read it here. […]

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