Negotiating a Large Medical Bill

Medical bills can easily wipe out a person’s savings with just one major life event. If you ever find yourself with a medical bill that seems impossible to manage you may be able to negotiate it lower.

Consider negotiating with the billing office at your doctor’s practice for a lower price on the treatments and procedures rendered. You may want to do this in person, and most practices will allow you to schedule an appointment with a representative of the billing office. Bring all your bills and other supportive documents, such as receipts from the pharmacy and information from your insurance provider. If you believe a charge for a procedure has been unreasonably inflated, it’s a good idea to research the going rate of coverage through sites like and myHealthcare Cost Estimator. Your insurance provider may have similar tools available.

At the meeting, explain that you are having difficulty with your bill and that you’re looking for a way to lower the costs. Here are some open-ended questions to guide your negotiations:

  • What discounts do you offer for financial hardship?
  • Which of these fees can be waived?
  • I know many hospitals have charity relief plans for patients having difficulty meeting their payments; can you tell me about yours?
  • Can you charge me what Medicare would pay for this service?
  • Can you lower some charges if I pay this off sooner?

With luck, you’ll walk away with a discounted bill.