Medical Bills – Are You Paying Too Much?

Most people don’t have a clue as to what routine medical care costs, much less surgery, advanced imaging, or hospital care often associated with personal injury cases. We essentially rely on our medical providers to bill us a fair amount for these services, and hope that our insurance covers most of the bills. Of course, even when those bills arrive it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell if we’re being taken to the cleaners. It’s not like there is an easy way to find out the average cost of medical procedures in our area. Or is there?

Medical Costs Explained and Compared – The Health Care Blue Book

There is a wonderful and free online service which can tell you the average cost for a large variety of health care treatments in your area, The Health Care Blue Book. It is geared towards educating those without health insurance, or those with high-deductible plans (and therefore, large out-of-pocket costs) as to how they can get the most bang for their buck at the doctor’s office. But even those with health insurance, especially personal injury claimants, can benefit from the information on this site.

Just to give you an idea as to how specific the site can get, let’s say you want to know how much an MRI of your knee will cost. From the site’s intuitive menu system, you choose Physician, X-Ray, Imaging, MRI. From there you are presented a list of 31 different MRI services. Three of those are for the knee, because they let you choose whether you want to price it (1) with contrast, (2) without contrast or (3) with and without contrast. Clicking on any of these will produce the fair cost for the service. If you enter your zip code into the site, it will factor that into its cost determination. How cool is that?

The site goes even further than just giving you cost information. For each service it covers, it also gives you tips on where to go or how to save money. For example, on the knee MRI page, it warns that some imaging centers charge three to five times more than others, so you should call around to get the best price. It also gives you a pricing agreement you can take to your health care provider (listing the blue book price) so you can get your provider to agree in writing as to the cost of your procedure. The site also provides general advice on how to negotiate lower prices with your health care providers.

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If you require a medical procedure such as an inpatient surgery, which often results in bills from multiple providers (e.g., hospital, physician, anesthesiologist), the site will give you the fair cost for each billing party, conveniently totaled at the bottom. The site even covers mental health treatment, cosmetic surgery, and dental treatment. After your lawsuit is over, are you thinking about getting a boob job (ladies) or laser removal of your back hair (gentlemen) with your personal injury settlement money? This site has you covered for that, too. One notable omission from the site is the cost of chiropractor treatments. Maybe that will be addressed in the future.

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How Medical Costs Affect Your Personal Injury Settlement

So, why should you, as a personal injury plaintiff, care about keeping your medical costs down? You’ve got health insurance, and the defendant’s going to wind up paying your medical bills anyway, right? Well, keep in mind that you will likely have to repay your health insurer from the settlement proceeds. Also, any outstanding medical bills due to deductibles or any other reason will also come out of your settlement. Remember that these costs are paid from your share of the settlement, meaning “after your attorney has already taken out his attorney’s fees.” So every dollar you save yourself in medical or health insurance liens is an extra dollar in your pocket. So why not use this free site to help you haggle with your health care providers? The money you save on medical bills now will be yours when your lawsuit is over.

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