What to Do About High Medical Bills

Some good advice from Consumer Reports:

1. Be proactive. “If you’ll be paying out of pocket, ask beforehand for a rate in line with what insurance companies pay.”

2. Do your research. “Whether you’re negotiating in advance or after you get a bill, websites such as Fair Health and Healthcare Bluebook can help you determine what insurers pay in your area.”

3. Talk to the right person. “If you get a bill, check it to make sure it’s correct. Then ask your ­insurer whether some or all will be covered. If not, call the provider who sent the bill. Start with someone in the billing department or the patient financial counseling office.”

4. Offer to pay cash. “If you can pay most of a bill, offer to do so immediately. Medical advocates say they can often get a 15 to 20 percent “prompt pay” discount this way.”

5. Explain why you can’t pay. “The possibility of not getting paid gives health-care providers a reason to offer a discount or payment plan.”

6. Enlist help. “Many hospitals have patient advocates who can help you understand billing codes and pinpoint errors. Hiring a medical advocate is another option, but it can be expensive.”

For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.