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When do I negotiate my medical bills?

If you have hospital bills that you believe are excessive or cannot pay, you should consider negotiating immediately. Depending on your specific situation, timely action may be required. And it is best to tackle the stress of excess medical bills directly so you can put it behind you.

Before directly negotiating medical bills, be sure to understand the fundamental strategies available to reduce your medical bills. A pure price negotiation is only one potential approach. If you have ruled out an insurance appeal, balance billing and billing errors, then you are likely dealing with simple price gouging and it is time to negotiate directly on price.

What preparation do I need to negotiate medical bills?

Before starting a hospital bill negotiation, you will need to gather the following documents:

You should also compare each line item in your bill to the Medicare reimbursable pricing or sign up for a free trial of Find-A-Code. Using the codes from your itemized hospital bill, compare your bill to the Medicare reimbursable rates. Insurance companies generally pay 1.5 to 3 times the Medicare reimbursable rate, so it’s best to use that range as your initial offer.

How do I negotiate down medical bills?

Once you have prepared, your medical bill negotiation should involve 3 steps:

  1. Build Your Case
    Articulate a strong reason for the hospital to accept a lower amount. The two most common approaches are:
    1. Argue that the bill creates a financial hardship
    2. Identify and document any excessive prices based on your research
  2. Submit a Settlement Request
    Your initial communication with the hospital will be a formal written settlement request. This is the starting point of the active negotiation. Call the hospital to confirm how and where to submit the settlement request. Politely decline any offer of a payment plan or financial aid and insist on submitting a settlement request. Call the hospital until they confirm that the settlement letter has been received.
  3. Negotiate
    If your settlement request is denied, that is just the first step. Follow by phone persistently and try the following tactics:
    1. Ask for a reason and a counteroffer
    2. Request to discuss your case with a supervisor
    3. Repeat your phone calls and requests weekly

What resources can help me with hospital bill negotiations?

Medical Billing Advocates like Resolve Medical Bills are the most qualified resource to help you negotiate medical bills. If you are not able to get your bills lowered on your own, it is time to consult with an expert medical billing negotiator.

Tips for negotiating hospital bills

  • Prepare: gathering the required information and documents will help you make the strongest case possible in your negotiation.
  • Be Polite and Persistent: Your first conversation may not be with a person authorized to reduce your bill. Develop a positive rapport and get them engaged as a collaborative problem solver. Don’t take “no” for an answer, but persist politely so your contact wants to get to “yes”.