10 Ways to Cut Your Medical Bills

Compare prices, use discounts, and don't be afraid to bargain.

Twyla and Robert House have excellent health-insurance coverage. But after Robert was hospitalized twice within eight months, they ended up owing more than $6,500 in out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Little River, S.C., couple dutifully paid a portion of the balance each month until they whittled it to about $2,000. At that point, they decided to try a new tactic. Robert offered to pay off his bill in a lump sum if the hospitals would give him a discount. "We had an extra $1,300 in savings," says Twyla. "Robert told them, 'This is how much I have, and if you want your money, or at least a big chunk of it, you'll cut me a deal.'" The gambit worked. The hospitals agreed to deduct more than $650.

The Houses used the same strategy last year when their daughter, Elena, had gallbladder surgery. As soon as they received a bill, Robert asked for a deal. He rejected the initial offer to knock off 15% and held out for the same 25% break he had received before, shaving about $400 off the bill.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.