If you want to be proactive, ask the billing department what their hospital or clinic charges for a medical procedure. Be specific. For example, ask what the charge will be for the radiologist or anesthesiologist. Be persistent. Once you find out the cost, ask the billing department or your doctor for a discount. Some people have reduced their payments by as much as 40 percent by negotiating a rate. Many health-care providers will also offer discounts to patients who are facing hefty medical bills [source: Andrews]. It doesn't hurt to ask. Keep in mind that many hospitals have more than a dozen rates for the same procedure, regardless of whether Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurer is paying [source: Alderman].