Starting The Conversation On Costs With Your Doctor

Sometimes even if the medical care you receive is covered by your insurance, the costs associated with healthcare can be more than you expect or budget for.  Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with your doctor or the office staff in regards to the cost of care, billing questions, or paperwork clarifications. Ultimately your provider and medical team want to ensure you are able to access and utilize the prescribed care so that your health may improve. They are on your side.

Tips to help before you have a cost issue:

  1. Be sure the doctor you are seeing is in-network with your insurance plan. While some plans offer out-of-network benefits, to get the best price you should be utilizing in-network providers.
  2. The ideal time to bring up costs is when your doctor suggests a new treatment or medication.  As well, it’s important to know the actual cost of the test or procedure, whether your insurance company will actually cover the cost, and what your out-of-pocket responsibility may be.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask if there is an alternative.  If you are concerned about an upcoming procedure or test, or the cost of a new prescription, you have every right to ask the purpose and if there is an alternative to what has been prescribed.

Tips to help when you already have a cost issue:

  1. Keep your medical and financial paperwork organized. That way, if you experience problems, you’ll be able to provide a complete description and documentation of the problem you’re facing.
  2. Be sure to always keep complete written notes with the date, name, title, and phone number of the person that you spoke with regarding the cost issue. Note that your doctor or nurse will most likely not be able to answer the billing questions. For these, you may want to speak to the administrative staff or someone in the billing office.
  3. Remember your goal is to get the doctor’s office to help you. Stay calm; be polite and patient, but also persistent. If you don’t understand the bill or why you owe what they say you owe, ask for clarification and continue until you fully understand. Be honest and realistic when talking about your ability to pay.

Many cost issues or billing issues can be quick to resolve once they are brought up or there is a request for clarification. All you have to do is to have the confidence to start the conversation.

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