Getting surgery? Ask these 6 money questions first


Anna Baluch

Anna Baluch

Blog author Anna Baluch

Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer who enjoys writing about personal finance topics including mortgages, retirement, insurance, and investing. Her work can be seen on LendingTree, Business Insider, Experian and other well-known publications. Anna lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing. You can contact her on LinkedIn.

Published October 16, 2019 | 2 min read

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If you have an upcoming surgery scheduled, you may be worried about the procedure itself and praying that everything goes smoothly. You may also be concerned about getting a surprise medical bill. To give yourself the chance to recover without financial surprises, it’s a good idea to ask these six money questions before surgery.

1. How will my insurance help with this procedure?

Insurance coverage can be confusing, to say the least. Have a conversation with your medical provider and insurance company to make sure you understand exactly how much your policy will cover and how much you’ll owe out-of-pocket to help avoid any surprise charges.

2. Are there any facility fees?

Many hospitals and larger health care facilities charge patients a facility fee for using their space and equipment. Find out whether you’ll have to pay a facility fee. If the answer is yes, do some research to determine if you can have your surgery done somewhere else without being faced with this fee. Facility fees can vary. Research published in Health Affairs found facility costs for maternity stays ranged from $1,189 to $11,986. While they can be negotiable, it’s difficult to avoid them entirely, according to Community Health advocates, a nonprofit providing free health insurance information in New York, so it’s well worth your time to ask this question.

3. Can you use in-network labs?

If your doctor prescribes bloodwork, an MRI, or other tests before your surgery, ask if they can recommend an in-network lab so you won’t be stuck paying out-of-network lab bills. You can call or email your health insurance provider or search its website to find in-network labs near you. (Learn how to read a hospital bill.)

4. Do you offer payment plans?

Many health care providers offer flexible payment plans to help their patients pay for a portion of or all of their surgery costs. If you don’t have the cash to pay for your surgery up front, ask your provider if they’d be willing to work with your budget and design a payment plan you’re comfortable with. Don’t agree to a payment plan until you understand it completely and are OK with the interest charges and terms.

5. How much is the recovery equipment?

Your doctor may recommend certain medical equipment like a wheelchair or sling to help you recover after surgery. Since medical equipment can be expensive, find out whether your insurance can help pay for it and how much you’ll owe out-of-pocket. After all, you don’t want to end up in a situation where you can’t afford the equipment that’s necessary for your recovery.

6. Is there an extra charge for a private room?

If your health care provider offers both private and shared rooms, they may charge you more for a private room. You may be able to save big by sharing a room with other patients. Since insurance policies rarely cover the cost of private rooms or suites, asking for a shared room can reduce some of your surgery expenses.

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