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How to save money at the doctor’s office or in a hospital

by Brooke Jarchow

If you’ve ever been hit with unexpected medical bills after visiting your doctor or a hospital, this article is for you. When seeing a doctor, you are likely being billed for each visit or procedure, which can add up quickly. However, it’s important to remember that you are the consumer and you have the right to ask questions that could save you money. Not every procedure or type of exam is necessary, and there are likely alternatives that provide the same care for less money. Below, we outline what you can do to save money at the doctor or in a hospital.

Ask questions…

Before any test, surgery, or exam, ask your doctor how the results might change your treatment. If the results of the procedure will not impact how the doctor treats your condition, you have the option to decline the procedure. If the test, surgery, or exam is necessary, ask your doctor how much it will cost. Your doctor should be able to give you a range. Asking your doctor questions about cheaper alternatives and expressing concern for your financial responsibilities could save you from paying for unnecessary or costly procedures.

Be clear on the terms of your visit and payment…

Should you find yourself in a hospital, ask if you are being admitted or held on “observation status.” If you’re being held on observation status, you’re technically an outpatient and could be responsible for higher costs than an inpatient.

If you’re staying in the hospital, make sure to express your willingness to occupy a room with another patient, if you’re comfortable with this. Private rooms are often the default in hospitals, but could cost more. Should you find yourself in a private room, make sure you are clear that you did not request the room.

Upon being admitted to a hospital, you’ll likely have to sign documents assigning you with financial responsibilities for charges your insurer does not cover. Before you sign, it might be a good idea to write in “as long as the providers are in my insurance network” to make sure your consent to cover additional co-payments or deductible charges applies to in-network providers only. This can help ensure that whoever is involved in your treatment – doctors, physicians, assistants – is in your network.

Refuse unnecessary care and equipment…

Equipment like slings, braces, and wheelchairs can often be purchased outside of a hospital or doctor’s office for much less money. If your doctor tries to send you home with equipment you could buy at a pharmacy for less, you have the option to refuse it. Like equipment, you can also refuse unnecessary care. Should you find yourself in a hospital, keep track of who is entering your room to check on you. Question their role, who sent them, and if their check-ins are necessary for your health.

Do you have questions about your coverage in these types of situations? Call GoHealth at (888) 322-7557 for help.

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