Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Get help with a huge medical bill

Trying to make sense of a medical bill is like trying to understand the federal tax code. Neither task is for the untrained or faint of heart. So if you think the bill for your latest afternoon at the doctor or hospital visit is wrong or excessive, a medical negotiation company may be able to help you bring that sky-high bill a bit closer to earth.

Medical negotiation companies rely on trained investigators and negotiators to review medical bills, identify charges that might be incorrect or excessive (based on so-called usual and customary charges), and negotiate with doctors or hospitals to lower the charge. The service isn't free — most companies take a percentage (in the vicinity of 25% to 35%) of whatever savings they manage to get for you.

You can find a company that specializes in reducing medical bills by doing an Internet search for "medical bill negotiation service." Unfortunately, the Yellow Pages don't routinely list such companies.

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