WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Healthcare is on the minds of many American families, especially during the open enrollment periods which happen towards the end of the calendar year. But few realize that you could dramatically lower the cost of your medical bills with careful planning.
Michelle Katz, MSN, LPN is a consumer healthcare advocate who help families with their medical bills. Her book called "Healthcare Made Easy" has tips on managing better healthcare costs for the entire family.
See full interview: Healthcare for Less with Michelle Katz
"The first bill I had was when I didn't have health insurance, I was $150,000 in debt," says Katz who was in her 20's, very healthy and running marathons at the time. While working with an accounting firm and learning about coding, eventually Katz owed $210,000 in medical bills due to her husband's heart attack.
"I wound up getting that down to about $7,500," adds Katz.
Katz says there are several ways to lower your medical bills:
- Learn about coding to that you can compare prices for medical procedures
"That's one of the things that I do talk about in my book is how to compare prices, because you can price around like shopping for a car," says Katz.
- During open enrollment, think about your family's health care needs for the next year before picking your insurance options.
Katz says, "Think about, 'What ailments do I have in the family? During the year, what am I planning on doing? Am I planning on getting pregnant? Is my child suffering from asthma? Is he switching medications?' Make a list of these things, price around and see what you're able to negotiate."
- Talk to your favorite physicians
"Even talk to your favorite physicians and say, 'hey, I come to you all the time, what plans do you like best?'" adds Katz. Sometimes you can even get your favorite doctors to opt into an insurance plan, this can also help in negotiating better prices for certain procedures.
You can get advice from Katz on Facebook: @nursemichellekatz