How to haggle a medical bill

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You’ve negotiated on the car lot. With your cable provider. But have you ever asked your doctor for a better deal? Most of us are reluctant to haggle over medical bills. But it’s OK to do so and doing so could save you thousands. So, how do you approach the subject?

First, I always do a little research. Before I agree to a procedure, I ask how much it will cost. Then, I compare that figure to the average cost in my area and on this website: If the numbers don’t line up, I call my hospital or doctor and explain the situation. Try this: “This procedure is out of my budget. Do you offer any discounts or payment plans?”

If you’ve already had the medical care but can’t afford the charges, you should still pick up the phone. Failing to address a bill can quickly tank your credit score. Again, ask for a payment plan or try this: Offer to pay in full in exchange for a discounted price.

Finally, understand that while this feels uncomfortable to you, doctors and hospitals are used to this conversation. According to data from Angie’s List, 74 percent of patients who asked for discounts received them.

I’m Jean Chatzky and this is Bankrate Bottom Line.

Personal loans are increasingly a common solution to financing medical procedures or medical debt. Check current rates and see how much you qualify for on bankrate.