Professional medical care in the United States is weird. Why? Because your hospital fees can be wildly expensive or, well, normal—and it depends a lot on whether or not you ask for an itemized bill.
Twitter user Yolanda posted about how her hospital bill shrunk by three quarters just because she asked for a receipt and a list of everything that she was charged for. Others pitched in and shared their own stories about how itemized bills protected their wallets, while some people spoke about other ways that their huge hospital bills shrunk or even disappeared.
Getting a discount on your bill can be an uphill battle. Professional patient advocate at Systemedic, Sue Null, explained to Vox that you need to find two things before you challenge any medical bill: the right info and the right person.
Yolanda gave people advice about how asking for an itemized bill can greatly reduce hospital fees
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Twitter users then shared their own stories about how their hospital bills shrank after asking for a receipt
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When you manage to get your hands on an itemized bill, you need to carefully check it for any mistakes and inconsistencies. You might find double-fees, extortionate prices for simple things, and charges for procedures that never even happened.
Luckily, there are databases like Fair Health, Healthcare Bluebook, and others where you can check what the prices should typically be. Some emergency rooms also charge far more money if they think your case is extremely complicated (the operative word here being think).
In general, American hospitals are willing to give you a discount if you’re prepared to pay the bill immediately, so this can be a great way to save money. After all, no hospital wants the headache of chasing down a bill that somebody might not ever pay in the future. So always ask about a discount. You might be surprised! Even if you don’t get one, at least you tried. It’s not like they can bump up your bill just for asking.
According to patient advocate Null, if you’re getting nowhere with your bill, you should ask to speak to a supervisor, and then their boss if you’re still stuck. Going up the chain of command can work wonders, but you shouldn’t expect it to magically make all of your financial worries disappear.
If you’re stuck with a huge medical bill and you’re out of options, you can always go public with your story. Just be sure to have all the supporting documents and evidence ready for nitpicking. When journalists start digging deep in a story, sometimes the bills vanish into thin air. For instance, Vox’s Sarah Kliff had more than 100k dollars worth of bills reversed during her report about emergency rooms.
Other people shared how they fought back against extortionate bills and posted their own hospital stories
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