For the un(or under)insured
During the years I had no health insurance, I learned that facilities vary in how much they charge for medical tests, lab work, and prescriptions. I also learned how to get some of these costs down.
It started when I received a bill for a cardiac ultrasound: $600 at that time. I called the business office and expressed my....um....horror. He said, "Would $300 be better?" It would, and after that I never paid full price for a medical test.
When I got a severe case of salmonella and incurred a $900 emergency room bill, I asked the hospital what sort of discount they offered for prompt payment. The answer was 30 percent. I subsequently learned that all hospitals do this, and some offer an even better discount. I also learned that you can sometimes employ standard bargaining techniques to improve your position. (I knew all those forays to antique shops would pay off someday!)
If I needed lab work, I called our local facilities (hospitals and labs) for prices. I did this with every different test, because the cheapest place for the lipid profile might be the most expensive for the blood glucose.
Same thing with pharmacies. I have my own health insurance now, but it doesn't cover my dog, Angel, who takes a heart pill every day. CVS pharmacy charges $60 to fill this prescription. Rite-Aid is a little more. K-Mart charges $51, but I went to Wal-Mart, where I paid only $32.