Surprise Medical Bills: Learn How to Best Handle Them

Playing How to Address ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills

Dr. Marty Makary, author of “The Price We Pay" and advocate for medical cost transparency, joins The Doctors to explain how patients can best deal with a surprise medical bill and answer viewer questions about insurance and billing issues.

 - Viewer Chelsea asks what she should do about being billed for a required medical test and then being told, "These services are not covered based on the diagnosis reported by your physician." Dr. Makary suggests to get in contact with the hospital and make your case. He says to go beyond the call center representative and even consider contacting your local hospital board members. He stresses that being an advocate for yourself if you feel you have been unfairly charged is the first and sometimes most effective step.

Watch: Tips for a Patient That Can’t Get Price Quote before Surgery

- A Doctors' Instagram follower asks, "What is the most affordable plan for a single, healthy 29-year-old?" If you cannot afford insurance, Dr. Makary suggests researching alternative options like faith-based co-ops, where you pay into a pool of money and the money is distributed after you hit your medical deductible.

- Viewer Evan shares he is unable to find out the price of a medical procedure prior to undergoing it and wants to know what he can do. “The Price We Pay" author tells him to meet with the hospital's revenue cycle representative or the CFO's office. He suggests asking for the price they will never exceed for the procedure if it is a predictable medical service. Dr. Makary says 60 percent of health care is shoppable. 

- One of our Doctors' social media followers asks, "Can doctors get dropped by an insurance plan and why?" Dr. Makary explains that often a doctor will decide to pull out of an insurance plan or even an entire doctors' group. He notes often insurance directories are not accurate and suggests contacting them directly to see what can be done and if they are in-network or not.

Watch: How to Address ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills

Looking for more ways to lower your medical bills? Dr. Makary suggests these tips to help slash your bills and save money:

  • Bills are negotiable: speak with the hospital before and after your procedure if the bill is unfair and ask for an itemized bill
  • Find the fair-market price for medical care: Dr. Makary says to go online and research prices before surgeries and procedures
  • Ask for financial assistance if you qualify: "Most hospitals do the right thing. Most people we know who run hospitals are good people working in a bad system," he says.

Get more medical savings tips, including how to save on prescription medications!


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