5 ways to cut medical bills long before you stick out your tongue and say ‘aaah’

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Medical costs can still be confusing and startling. But as transparency becomes the norm, we should be able to get a price quote before undergoing a medical procedure, know the amount our health insurance will cover, and even solicit a package price from the hospital.

“Traditionally, the negotiated price between the insurer and a medical provider is proprietary; it’s a competitive secret,” says Lynn Quincy, associate director of health reform policy for Consumers Union. “So it’s something of a new idea that consumers should be able to see what that price is.”

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Rays of sunshine are beginning to penetrate the “black box” of medical pricing, says Amy Bach, the executive director of the insurance consumer group United Policyholders.

“We’re going through the painful process of recasting our medical care system because there’s just a lot of really unhealthy profit-making that has had the system in a vice grip for years,” she says.

How can you save money on medical care in this predawn light? Adopt these habits to lower your costs and avoid medical debt, which can affect your credit score. Check your score for free at myBankrate.