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  • Matt Kiefer

Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate


As children, we try to negotiate everything, like going to bed later, not having to clean our rooms, or eating our vegetables. We are willing to make deal after deal to try and get the things we want and avoid the things that we don’t. So what happens as we get older and just start to accept things for how they are, without trying to get a better deal?


Oh, sure, there are still places where negotiating is part of the experience, like car lots and yard sales, but in many other areas, we just accept things as they are. Perhaps that explains why nearly 60% of respondents to a recent survey have not tried to negotiate the amount of their medical bills, even though 64% of respondents have as much as $5,000 of medical debt.


Perhaps most people are not aware that they can negotiate their medical bills to try and work out a better deal. If that is the case, it presents an opportunity for healthcare providers and those that collect on their behalf to work with patients. Offering them payment plans or a lower amount if paid in full can be beneficial on many levels. It will help the patient take care of an important financial obligation. It will bring in much-needed revenue for the healthcare facility. And perhaps it may even make an individual feel much more loyal to that provider for their willingness to work with the patient.


When collecting on a debt, it is customary to ask for the balance to be paid in full as the first option. If that is not possible, that is where the negotiation should begin. A payment plan or a reduced lump sum payment are the two most popular options. If a consumer does not ask for one of those options, it may be up to the provider or a collector to offer them as a means of getting the debt repaid.


Anyone collecting on a debt, whether in-house at a healthcare provider or for a third-party agency, has to be ready to negotiate. Knowing that many individuals might be hesitant to ask for a reduced payment should not keep providers from making the offer themselves. There is no guarantee that an individual is going to pay a balance in full just because he or she did not realize a discount may have been available. Remember what it was like to be a child and negotiate. It will likely help you in the long run. 

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