10 Ways to Negotiate a Medical Bill

Compare Hospital Costs

It's normal to shop around and compare costs when you're buying a car. When you renovate your kitchen, you get estimates from more than one contractor. Shopping around for the best surgical procedure is the same thing. Being proactive and comparing costs can save you oodles of cash before you go to the hospital. The best time to negotiate prices is before you get the treatment. Make sure you know the CPT code for the procedure you are seeking. CPT means "current procedural terminology." In simple terms, CPT is the billing code hospitals use for each procedure. Knowing the code will make it easier for you to get quotes from various hospitals and doctors. Your physician can supply you with the codes [source: MSN]. Just keep in mind, if you choose a hospital where your preferred physician does not have practicing privileges, he may not be able to perform your procedure.

Hospitals use another type of billing code called the Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System. The HCPCS number is usually five digits long and may have some letters. Hospitals use the code for supplies, medical equipment and other products [source: Consumer Reports].

Related Articles


  • Alderman, Lesley. "Bargaining Down the Medical Bills." The New York Times. Mar. 13, 2009. (Jan., 2011). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/14/health/14patient.html
  • American Medical Association. "New AMA Health Insurer Report Card Finds Need for More Accuracy." June 14, 2010. (Jan., 2011). http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2010-report-card.shtml
  • Andrews, Michelle. "4 Ways to Save on Your Medical Bills." U.S. News & World Report. Aug. 21, 2008. (Jan., 2011). http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-health-and-money/2008/08/21/4-ways-to-save-on-your-medical-bills.html
  • Bankrate.com. "10 ways to cut your medical bill." MSN.com. (Jan., 2011). http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/10-ways-to-cut-your-medical-bills.aspx
  • Brandon, Emily. "5 Ways to Lower Your Medical Bills." U.S. News & World Report. Nov. 29, 2007. (Jan., 2011). http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2007/11/29/5-ways-to-lower-your-medical-bills.html
  • Brody, Jane E. "Put Your Hospital Bills Under a Microscope." The New York Times. Sept. 13, 2010. (Jan., 2011). http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/health/14brod.html?_r=3
  • Consumer Reports. "Check medical bills for errors." Aug., 2009. (Jan., 2011). http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/personal-investing/check-medical-bills-for-errors/overview/
  • CT.gov. "Office of the Health Care Advocate." (Jan., 2011).http://www.ct.gov/oha/site/default.asp
  • Grim, Ryan. "Health Insurance Profits Soar, Dem Calls For Rebates." Huffington Post. Nov. 10, 2010. (Jan. 2011). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/health-insurance-profits-_n_781636.html
  • Jost, Timothy. "Implementing Health Reform: The Appeals Process." Health Affairs.org. July 25, 2010. (Jan., 2011). http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2010/07/25/implementing-health-reform-the-appeals-process/
  • Kaiser Family Foundation. "U.S. Health Care Costs." March, 2010. (Jan., 2011). http://www.kaiseredu.org/Issue-Modules/US-Health-Care-Costs/Background-Brief.aspx
  • Kotzen, Josh. "A Little Haggling Could Mean Big Savings on Med Bills." ABC News. March 29, 2008. (Jan., 2011). http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4545067&page=1
  • Lee, Jeannie. "Slash Your Medical Bills: 7 Ways to Haggle." CBS Money Watch. Nov., 4, 2009. (Jan., 2011). http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/article/slash-your-medical-bills-7-ways-to-haggle/360623/
  • MSNBC.com. "Medical-billing errors becoming more common." Oct. 29, 2007. (Jan., 2011). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21527433/ns/health-health_care/
  • U.S. News & World Report. "5 tips for haggling over medical bills." MSN.com. Jan. 29, 2008. (Jan., 2011). http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/5TipsForHagglingOverMedicalBills.aspx
  • Weintraub, Arlene. "How to fight a denied health claim -- and win." Reuters. Nov., 17, 2010. (Jan., 2011). http://blogs.reuters.com/prism-money/2010/11/17/how-to-fight-a-denied-health-claim-and-win/


After the Equifax Breach, Does Credit Fraud Monitoring Really Help?

After the Equifax Breach, Does Credit Fraud Monitoring Really Help?

Do you need to pay for credit fraud monitoring? HowStuffWorks explores the world of credit monitoring.

More to Explore