This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
See Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE and get his new book Get Rich Carefully! Learn More

Health Care Hagglers Say They Save Up to Half

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- While a Nevada candidate's suggestion of bartering for medical care was the butt of jokes -- "In the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor," Republican Sue Lowden said in April -- haggling over medical bills is starting to become an accepted strategy.

The potential prize: medical tests and procedures for half the cost.

Faced with high-deductible plans and uncovered procedures, even those with health insurance are facing increasing out-of-pocket expenses. But the uninsured, bereft of the clout of big insurance companies -- among them UnitedHealth Group (UNH), WellPoint (WLP), Aetna (AET), Humana (HUM) and Cigna (CI) -- can pay up to 2.5 times more for the same services.

As a result, and with unemployment rates at an all-time high, one in five Americans chose not to seek medical care for a recent illness or injury, according to a recent Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey. Four out of 10 cited cost as the primary factor.

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, a site that posts consumer reviews on doctors, dentists and service companies, says negotiating over medical care is a trend in its early stages.

In a May poll of 1,237 Angie's List members, 57% said they have never negotiated a medical bill. Nearly 25% didn't even know they had that option. But, of those who did negotiate, 74% did so successfully, with some reporting that they cut their bill in half.

More than 40% of those who bargained with their medical provider said they did so because their insurance didn't cover as much of their bill as they had expected.

"By no stretch of the imagination do we just suggest that you should shop your medical treatment only by price," Hicks says. "But there are ways you can shave some dollars off your expenses without impacting quality at all."

"The health care community has been negotiating with insurance companies forever," she says. "Negotiation is not foreign to them at all. The difference here is that consumers are sitting in the pay seat more today than they used to be, so it is just changing who is doing the negotiating. Consumers should feel comfortable asking these questions."

"It is very hard to get a fair price if you worry about it after you get your care," says Dr. Jeffrey Rice, CEO of HealthcareBlueBook.com. "It is like buying a car and waiting for them to send a bill in the mail before you know what you will be paying."

Stock quotes in this article: UNH, WLP, AET, HUM, CI 

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
DOW 16,377.45 +114.89 0.71%
S&P 500 1,853.40 +10.42 0.57%
NASDAQ 4,057.4840 +23.3230 0.58%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs