Medical expenses, as we all know, can add up quickly. One major illness or trip to the emergency room could require testing that is not always covered by the insurance companies. When this occurs, there are some things you can do.

The first plan of action is to call your insurance company and make sure the nonpayment was not an error on its end. Have the doctor's office submit something in writing to explain why the test was necessary. If that fails, then negotiate your fee with the doctor's office.

Insurance companies usually receive a discount from the physician's office. Ask the doctor' office to waive the fee that isn't paid by the insurance company or give you a discount on the amount you owe. Negotiating could save you up to 50 percent off your bill.

When it comes to getting paid, hospitals have their work cut out for them. Medical bills are a major cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and when collectors are put on the case, they take up to 25 percent of what is reclaimed, according to Dr. Mark Friedman, founder of billing consultant Premium Healthcare Services. That leaves room for some bargaining. So never be afraid to ask. All they can do is say no.

For now happy shopping!

Laurie Dixon, TheBAG Lady