John Reidelbach was pretty sore after some recent hospital surgery, thanks to a really huge bill. But instead of just paying up, the Atlanta business consultant tried asking for a discount. To his surprise, he got one. "I said I'd pay part of it right then or all of it over the next few years," says Mr. Reidelbach, who got $950 knocked off the $1,900 bill. "I guess they were in a hurry for the money."

In small but growing numbers, Americans are taking an innovative approach to controlling health-care costs: They're haggling with their doctors. Fed up with mounting health bills, consumers are getting as much as 30% off everything from eye exams to fertility procedures just by agreeing to pay upfront. Others are holding their doctors over a barrel by waiting a few months to pay the bill. Already, a new cottage industry of middlemen who negotiate health-care bills for patients report their haggling business is up as much as 25% in the last two years.


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    Healthcare Quarterly, 5(3) March 2002

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