Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Ask Sid

Do Doctors Give Discounts?

Q. I read that you can get a discount on medical costs just by asking. I’ve tried, with no success. Any advice?

A. Studies show that only about 13 percent of patients ever ask their doctors or hospitals for a price break, but when they do, most are successful. However, those discounts are usually given to people facing high out-of-pocket costs with little or no health insurance. So if you have good insurance coverage, don’t expect your doctor to agree to waive a $25 copayment or charge you only $5 for a visit.

Still, your chances of snagging a discount are better if you offer to pay in cash up front or via an interest-free installment plan—especially if it will save the provider time, paperwork and haggling with insurers over reimbursements. Typically, insurers reimburse providers about half their billed amounts, but patients may fare best asking for a more reasonable 10 to 30 percent discount.

The time to politely inquire about a price break directly from the doctor (as opposed to the office staff) is before getting treatment—but after you’ve called a local health insurer about what it usually reimburses providers for that type of visit or procedure. You can also find cost estimates online from the National Institutes of Health.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" (AARP Books/Sterling).


Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.