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Patients deserve to know fair prices for medical procedures

| Jan 3, 2020 | Medical Debt

If paying a medical bill was like buying a candy bar, consumers would know the exact amount they owe. However, some hospitals may choose to keep consumers in the dark about fair procedure prices.

Often, the expensive charges don’t usually correlate with quality of service and are more about maintaining bargaining power with insurance providers. This system can create a significant disadvantage for medical patients, as they may receive a bill several times higher than what their operation was worth.

Fortunately, patients can push back against high medical debt through diligent research and negotiation.

Hospital prices aren’t always accurate

In some cases, a hospital may try to charge a patient what’s called a “chargemaster rate.” Hospitals typically set this rate to make more money off the procedure. That’s because it’s usually much higher than what an insurance company is willing to pay. For example, a hospital may set their chargemaster rate for an MRI at $10,000. But by researching prices on a site HealthCare Bluebook, patients can negotiate the procedure price down to $5000.

Avoiding unwanted surprises

Depending on a patient’s circumstances, these are some other things that could help them save on medical costs:

  • Remain “in-network” with their insurance plan when possible.
  • Carefully compare health care network prices.
  • Don’t make payments until the bill gets sent.
  • Push back against surprise out of network charges.

Patients deserve fairly priced quality care

Oregonians have plenty of other financial concerns, the last thing many want is to deal with more payments they can’t afford. But by taking the time to examine and understand fair prices for medical procedures, health care consumers can save themselves a few extra dollars in the long run.

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The Law Office of Kim Covington is a debt relief agency, and I have helped families, individuals and small businesses, file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, for over 19 years.