Save money by negotiating charges

Dr. Mary Hobart
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It’s one thing to think your doctor charges too much.
It’s another to know what doctors charge, on average.

Did you know doctors are not permitted to compare fees?  The fear is this might lead to price-fixing, or gouging, or so they say.  But insurance companies are aware of what every doctor charges.  Somehow that’s OK.  But that’s a blog for another day.

However, you might like to visit a web site where you can compare what the ‘fair price’ for a particular medical procedure is.  (Of course, who determines what is fair?  Should the charge for a dental cleaning and exam be higher than caring for a person with a heart attack? Oops, another blog for another day.)

Today I learned of Healthcare Blue Book at  On this site you can compare what ‘fair’ (or perhaps typical) charges are for doctor visits, lab tests, common surgeries, and many other medical procedures.  If you find your doctor charges considerably more, you could use the information to negotiate a discount or possibly help you find another doctor.  The site includes a downloadable form to contract with your doctor for lower rates. 

While this is a good place to start, you should keep in mind that your doctor may already be giving you a discount without even mentioning it.  Perhaps your doctor has spent 20 minutes with you and only charged you for 10.  This is quite common, and basically covers the doctor’s overhead.  To negotiate this rate lower yet means the physician is not only donating his own time, but paying his staff to do so.  You may want to ask the receptionist what your physician’s typical charges are, based on time.

This advice is primarily for patients who pay cash for medical care.  Contracts with insurance companies already include discounted payments.

Have some fun and check out the Healthcare Blue Book.  Even I had a few surprises!  Hmm, $4328 for liposuction . . .

© Cynthia J Koelker, MD – All rights reserved

Health care systems
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