One Way To Save Money On Medical Bills

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I am hoping that this post will help others learn from our mistakes and  help families save money on medical bills from the first procedure instead of the second procedure like our family did.

How to apply a well know thrifty practice to medical procedures and save $100's

I am not sure how my husband and I forgot this principle after we learned it so well from a varicose vein procedure I had done many years ago.

That time around this tip I am about to share with you saved us $1000’s of out of pocket expenses. This time it saved us $100’s but it could have been just over $1000 if we had thought to have done it before procedure one and not just before procedure two.

The tip is simple, and one used to save money in many other areas of finances.

What is our most successful way to save  money on medical bills?

Call around and compare prices before you have any non emergency procedures done.

Just like you might compare prices for cell phone rates you should take the time to call around and compare prices of medical procedures where you are going to be paying a portion of the bill out of your own pocket.

Of course if you are in an emergency situation you are not going to be able to do this, but if the procedure you are having done is either routine or non- emergency than taking the time and effort to call around and compare prices from place to place can have dramatic effects on your out of pocket expenses.

Here is how this simple step saved our family just under  $600 in 2014.

I needed an ultrasound done to check on a uterine fibroid that was giving me some trouble.

The first time I simply let the front desk people at my doctor’s office set up an appointment for my towns local ultrasound center.

The out of pocket bills for that locally done ultrasound were $623.88. That is a lot of money for our  family to swallow, and it took my husband a significant amount of overtime to get it paid down.

When my doctor recommended I get a second ultrasound done several months later to make sure the ovarian cyst they saw had gone away and therefore was simply a cyst,  (there is a lot of cancer history in my family) I wasn’t happy about costing our family another $623.88.

My husband who is a registered nurse suggested perhaps we should call a few other ultrasound centers in neighboring cities and see if   there was one that billed less to insurance, that also took our insurance, which would in turn mean we would have to pay less out of pocket.

With 2 phone calls my husband found an ultrasound center in a larger center about 45 minutes away from us who billed less to insurance than we paid out of pocket for the first ultrasound.

Our total out of pocket bill for the second ultrasound  was $25.03 .

For basically 30 minutes work of calling and one hour and a half of driving we saved $598.85; that is an hourly rate of $399 for our time and effort.

I asked my husband (a registered nurse) if someone would need to work in the medical field in some way to be able to make the calls. He said no, anyone could do it you simply  need to know the exact procedure you are having done and call the medical centers in your area and ask what they charge for that procedure (they will put you through to someone who knows billing information).

The place I went to for the second ultrasound was not in a fancy building like the first was, and it didn’t have an amazing waiting room like the first had. It was a very plain Jane older office, but it had the  machines needed to do the procedure and the trained staff to run them and that is  all  I needed.

How have you saved on your medical bills?

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Comments

  1. I didn’t think about calling around for the best price. That’s a great tip!

  2. As someone who has ended up stuck with a big bill more often than I’d care to admit, thank you! I’ll also note that if you can’t find anyone cheaper in your search, think whether you are able to pay the bill in full. Often they will reduce the fees owed (even if insurance has already paid). It may not be much, like just 10% in some places, but it has been up to half in others. Any penny saved is good these days! (I hope you aren’t still having cyst problems, those are awful!)

  3. This is a good thing to know, I am often shocked by the cost of medical care here. An ultrasound for over $600?!

    I hope you are doing great health wise.

  4. Had not thought of this, but sure makes a lot of sense. Especially on tests like ultrasounds, CTs, MRIs. Thanks much.

  5. Heather says:

    Great advice! I’ve saved hundreds by shopping around for ultrasounds, and MRI’s! Also, many places around here offer a huge discount if you pay upfront. If I don’t have the money then we pay on a no interest credit card up front to save a large percentage!

  6. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    For us making our HSA contributions a priority have allowed us to save significant funds. First, we have more control of our expenses because having to spend our “own money” makes us more conscientious in making decisions. Second, having the lump sum available to pay medical bills we do have has allowed us to save. All I do when I have a large bill is say “is there any discount you can offer of I’m paying in full today?” This has gotten me 15-20% discounts. The first time was 20% when my daughter fell and cut her chin open. It amounted to $700 in savings and most recently a procedure I finally decided to get done (having to do with what babies do to our bladders!) I got 15% off the hospital bill which amounted to $600!

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