How to Save 25% on Medical Bills

July 29, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

By Kaye Nemec | Contributor

If you’ve recently undergone some sort of medical procedure and are nervous about the number of digits when the bill arrives, relax. Medical bills aren’t necessarily black and white; some frugal patients have discovered a secret.

According to a recent New York Times article, most hospitals and doctor’s offices are willing to negotiate price if it means at least part of their bill actually gets paid. In a time when the economy isn’t exactly booming and some people can’t afford health care, more and more medical bills are left untouched. If you’re looking to steer clear of collection agencies and maintain your credit, you may be able to benefit from other people’s “dine & ditch” version of medical procedures.

So what’s the trick? Haggle.

Call your doctor, hospital, dentist etc. and ask them to give you a discount if you pay your entire bill immediately over the phone. Angie’s List recently performed a consumer survey about this topic and found that 74% of people received a discount on medical bills simply by asking for it.

If you’re the planning ahead type, check out the website before scheduling a medical procedure. They’ll give you an estimate of what some of the most common procedures should cost, that way you can shop around and see how much various providers are charging. Once you find the best deal, schedule the appointment, then call afterward to haggle your discount. Check out their section on How to Negotiate Healthcare Prices for even more tips on lowering your bill.

Even if you’ve never used the salesperson of the month parking spot, it’s easy to ask for a discount. The worst that can happen is: they say, “no”

Your request can be as simple as, “Hello. I have a labor and delivery bill from your hospital for $1,700.00 and I heard that if I pay it in full over the phone I can get a 25% discount. I’d like to go ahead and do that today.”

I’m wondering, could this also work at the vet? If you thought medical bills for humans were outrageous, try having a puppy and you’ll soon learn what astronomical looks like.

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Sources: NYT,, Angie’s List,

Photo: Maxios (cc)

Entry filed under: Be Frugal, Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eric Scott  |  July 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Wow, seems simple enough to me…I feel like a schmuck for never really thinking about this earlier.

  • 2. Vineet  |  July 29, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Hmmm….why a copy paste job straight from yahoo. You have been better than that Chad.

    • 3. Nikola Malesevic  |  July 29, 2010 at 9:11 am

      Actually, this article wasn’t written by Chad. It seems this is the very first article that was written by someone else. I didn’t like this article because it is focused on USA, so it doesn’t concern me. And you say this Kaye copy-pasted it? Really disappointing…

    • 4. Chad Upton  |  July 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      Yes, this post was written by Kaye and I don’t believe she would copy/paste.

      The following post is on Yahoo, but I don’t think it is a rip off or a copy/paste. If you have another link then please feel free to send it along.

  • 5. mojo  |  July 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

    if u call a dr. ofc & offer a 15% – 25% pymt of ur bill, & ask for a hardship discount, sending in documents of ur hardship, most will give an adjustment as well. COMMUNICATION is the key with effort! not just a free ride!

  • 6. Elbyron  |  July 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    This trick doesn’t help me much, as I live in Canada where health care is usually covered by government and/or employee health plans. But no coverage is provided for pets (unless you buy your own pet insurance), so I wonder if asking a vet for a discount would work?
    Another place it could work is on elective surgeries or certain dental costs that aren’t covered (like crowns). I also had to pay 50% for getting my wisdom teeth pulled, a bill that was almost $1000 but maybe could have been cheaper had I asked for a discount or shopped around!

  • 7. Shannon  |  July 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I think this is useful information to know in the US. We never really think doctor’s prices are negotiable, but why shouldn’t they be?

  • 8. Joe G  |  July 30, 2010 at 2:59 am

    I find it hard to fathom why some people in the US are so resistant to Nationalised healthcare. As a UK national and occasional user of our NHS I feel privileged to receive such treatment.

    It would not surprise me to find that all those opposed to a similar healthcare system in the US are comfortably able to meet any medical bills and care little for anyone who can’t.

  • 9. Kristen  |  July 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    interesting post; it never occurred to me that I could negotiate the prices

  • 10. Dave  |  August 16, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I just called and got 20% off what I owed for a recent surgery

  • 11. Sven  |  August 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Not too impressed with the last paragraph re veterinary bills. I doubt you would routinely get a discount at a veterinary clinic.. They are unlikely to overinflate their prices the way the medical establishment does, so will have less room for negotiation.

    Compare the cost of a similar surgery between humans and animals and you will find where the true value is.

    Disclosure: My wife is a veterinarian.

  • 12. jojo  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Sven, you have never gone to a Banafield pet hospital before. They encourage you to get a yearly pet insurance from tgem and routinely inflate their prices

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  • 14. Couponmount  |  March 29, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post and it is useful for everyone that to save money.


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