Cancer Survivor Takes Control of Insurance Nightmare

James Mannett’s cancer has cost around $600,000, including travel and other expenses, with about $100,000 of that coming from his own pocket. Mr. Mannett, who now lives in a recreational vehicle and is supported mainly by federal disability benefits, is doing well now, but continues to receive periodic chemotherapy to contain the cancer in his liver.
Like many people with a serious illness, Mr. Mannett got a quick education on navigating the financial straits of being treated for a major disease. He learned that smart medical consumers can save money if they track their bills as closely as they monitor their health.
Here’s some tips he learned:
• When his insurer disputed some doctors' bills, for instance, Mr. Mannett got both parties together on a conference call to work out a compromise.
• By getting acquainted with a case worker at his insurance company, he learned how to negotiate lower fees from surgeons before an operation took place.
• By becoming friendly with financial clerks at doctors' offices, he has been able to secure discounts on some services.
• Before writing any checks, he double-checked calculations on his insurer's explanations of benefits.
• He wrote letters asking for other charges to be waived because of "severe financial hardship."

Mr. Mannett estimates his efforts saved him more than $10,000 on the cost of the scans and lab exams.

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