pile of dollar bills

pile of dollar billsAs part of our mission to help you save money by beating back your health-care costs, we’re starting a series of blog posts giving practical consumer advice about the marketplace.

These posts are based on things we’ve learned in our reporting that many people may not know.

As always, our posts should in no way be construed as offering medical advice. We are strictly about pricing. Our stated mission is to bring transparency to the health-care marketplace. Your decisions about treatment, providers and anything else belong strictly to you.

We’re starting with this list of topics. Send us your suggestions to info@clearhealthcosts.com!

1.    Ask the price in advance.

2.    Even if it’s an emergency, ask the price in advance.

3.    Some people think you shouldn’t ask the price in advance.

4.    Do you really want to make medical decisions based solely on price?

5.    Hospital and other rates are regulated by somebody, aren’t they? So there’s not really a great deal of variance. Wait, they’re not regulated?

6.    The new movement toward “consumer-driven health care” will change the entire equation, and bring consumers to the fore, thus reducing costs. (Keep a hand on your wallet.)

7.    Get someone’s name, and keep it–in general, keep careful records.

8.    Know what your plan covers.

9.    Read the small print. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

10.  Read the doctor’s bill. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

11.  Read the explanation of benefits from the insurance company. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

12.  Know at least a bit about billing codes. A lot of billing errors start here.

13.  Comparison shop (on-line resources etc.).

14.  Be aware of testing charges.

15.  Ask questions. Then ask more questions.

16.  Think about negotiating with the provider.

17.  Actually, some people think you shouldn’t negotiate with the provider.

18.  Be ready and able to negotiate with the insurance company.

19.  Know the factors that change prices: place of service, geography etc.

20.  Be polite, and don’t be afraid to be persistent. Sometimes sobbing helps.

21.  Put things in writing, and ask for written confirmations.

We’re starting with this list of topics. Send us your suggestions to info@clearhealthcosts.com, and thanks!

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...