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Negotiating Healthcare Costs (Yes, It’s a Thing!)

Creative ways to help you save on healthcare costs

Written by: Andrew Hall.

Male agent's hands point out details to a female customer.

Key Takeaways

  • Negotiating healthcare costs is a simple way to save money on your overall healthcare spend.

  • Making sure your providers are in-networkIn-network refers to the doctors, hospitals and other providers that are inside of your provider network. This is the group of providers that has agreed with your health insurance company to treat its customers. is the first step to ensuring you’re making the best financial decisions when it comes to healthcare.

  • Having an open dialogue with your providers about the costs of care and ways to save helps increase the likelihood of savings.

  • Using generic drugsGeneric drugs are prescription drugs that have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, but usually cost less. (where possible) is a turnkey way to save money on prescription costs.

  • Using healthcare transparency tools to help research the cost of procedures and care in your area can help you make informed decisions on where to go for care.

Understanding the Value of Health Insurance

When it comes to healthcare costs, people tend to think that the price for services is non-negotiable. While you may be used to hunting for deals when it comes to buying a new pair of shoes or haggling at the car dealership, you may be surprised to find out that you can use the same money-saving tactics when you’re at the doctor.

Below are a few ways to begin the process of negotiating your healthcare costs.

1. Start in-network.

Before you go in for an office visit, confirm your doctor or provider is in your provider network. Visiting an out-of-network doctor exposes you to lower coverage (if any at all) and higher out-of-pocket costs.

Most insurance companies have a searchable list on their website that allows you to verify whether or not your provider is in-network. If your preferred doctor is not in-network, ask your doctor for other providers’ recommendations in your area and check to see if those doctors are in-network.

2. Ask your provider about ways to save.

As strange as it may sound, ask your doctor for cost-saving tips. Some healthcare providers will work with you as you look to make budget-conscious decisions. Additionally, certain providers (e.g., some hospitals or outpatient facilities) may provide a discount if you pay for your services up front and in cash.

Even if it seems like it may be an uncomfortable topic to bring up, simply asking for a price discount can go a long way. Most doctors want to help their patients and want to do so without forcing unnecessary costs.

Simply put? You’ll never know until you try.

3. One word: Generic.

Want to know a secret? Generic drugs work exactly the same as brand name drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “A generic medicine works in the same way and provides the same clinical benefit as its brand-name version. This standard applies to all FDA-approved generic medicines. A generic medicine is the same as a brand-name medicine in dosage, safety, effectiveness, strength, stability, and quality, as well as in the way it is taken and should be used.” [1]

The best part? Generic drugs are significantly less expensive than their brand counterparts.

Where possible, ask your doctor to prescribe you generic drugs (and be sure they’re on your insurance provider’s list of covered drugs).

4. Shop around before getting a procedure.

If time allows, before getting your knee replaced or tubes put in your toddler’s ears, shop around.

Because healthcare providers have different overhead costs and different ways of pricing their services, there’s not really a “standard pricing menu” for medical procedures. The result? Drastically different prices for the same procedures. You can search provider pricing for certain procedures and testing in your area.

When it’s all said and done, remember: It’s your money and your health. You have every right to ask questions and make the decision that’s best for you.

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