This is your friendly reminder not to pay the full cost of medical bills without negotiating first. I got this explanation of benefits recently for Dutch's visit to the ER when he broke his arm. For the emergency services, the amount billed was INCREASED by a "negative plan discount" to the tune of nearly $600. Whaaaaa? After talking to insurance and the medical provider, the conclusion is that the actual cost of those services is less than the contractual amount agreed upon by provider and insurance for those services, so they are requiring me to pay the higher amount, even though that's not what it actually cost for the services. I implored both parties to use common sense, to no avail. These types of organizations stick to their scripts and can't sway from mandatory processes, even when they make no sense. So, my backup plan was to tell them I needed a "pay now" discount or they wouldn't be seeing any funds. The manager said, "I can offer you 20% off, as that's our standard discount." Sold. Most providers have the option to offer a discount, so definitely ask for it when you receive a large medical bill. I could've saved myself 10 minutes of arguing if I just asked for the discount right off the bat, but whatever, they deserve to hear me bitch.
Same is true for collection agencies. I recently helped a friend clear up an old utilities account and I had her tell them she wouldn't be able to pay off the amount for a long time as-is, but if they offered her a discount, she could pay it off right then. They were more than happy to. You've got nothing to lose by trying!
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