Haggling for healthcare

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - Steven Greibrok tries to save money any way he can. He even asks his doctors for discounts.

The father of two says he's saved thousands by haggling for healthcare. For example, he saved $200 on the hearing aids he bought for his daughter.

He once negotiated a better deal with a doctor by opting out of anesthesia during a procedure. "I said, 'Well, how much are we talking about saving me?' He said, 'Instead of $3,300, it will be $1,100.' And, I said, 'I can take a lot of pain.'"

But haggling for healthcare doesn't have to be painful. "A few phone calls can literally save a patient thousands of dollars."

Jeff Rice runs HealthCareBlueBook.com, a Web site devoted to telling consumers what some of the most common medical procedures should cost. "If you need a common procedure, like an MRI or colonoscopy, there my be a 300-500 percent price variation."

For example, in New York City, one staffer reduced a knee MRI from $1,800 to $600. And, in Seattle, the price for a mammogram varied by 60 percent.

Greibrok says talking to his doctors and haggling has not only saved him money, it's also led to better health care. "I've never felt that I've compromised anything, and maybe I've gotten better care out of the education process and out of the conversations."

So, if you're prepared to haggle, here's some advice:

  1. Shop around
  2. Offer to pay cash
  3. Offer to pay up front
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