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Hospital Sticker-Shock Relief

Leslie Clark spent less than 24 hours in the hospital during an attack of diverticulitis. But she felt even sicker when she saw the bill: $10,206. So Clark, a New York TV writer, turned to a medical negotiation company.

Healthcare Mediation sliced Clark’s bill by $5,200. She paid $769 for the service, but such companies usually collect up to 30 percent of the amount the bill is reduced. They employ skilled negotiators before or after a procedure to see if the client has been overcharged, is insured or qualifies for other coverage and compare costs elsewhere to use as leverage.

One firm, Medical Cost Advocate, says it saves its clients money 80 percent of the time, with an average savings of 20 percent of the bill. For a list of medical negotiation companies, go to