It is definitely worth a try if you have a high balance. Here's how I've successfully negotiated lower balances in the past:
1) Contact the billing office (or offices, if you have more than one bill)- there is usually a number on the bill you can call, or you can call the provider's office directly and ask to be transferred to the billing department.
2) Let the billing representative know that you are calling to settle an account, and would like to send over a debt settlement agreement. Get the name of the billing manager, to whom you will address the agreement, and the fax number, email or mailing address of the billing office, where you will send your letter.
3) Compose a letter to the office, include:
- An explanation of why you are requesting a reduction in the balance- for example: due to financial difficulty, or an excessively high balance.
- A proposal for settlement. Propose an amount that you can afford, and include the date and method of payment. If you propose a settlement offering immediate payment, the office may consider accepting a lower total amount than if you request a payment plan.
- A debt settlement agreement that you and the representative can sign so you have documentation of the agreement.
General templates that you can customize for Debt Settlement Letters and Agreements can be found at these websites:
4) Send letter and debt settlement agreement to the billing office(s). Follow-up by phone to ensure they receive the documents, and ask when you can expect to hear back from them, or when you should call back to follow-up.
5) Give them the opportunity to come back to you with a counter offer, or requests for more information. They may not be willing to accept your initial proposal, but may consider another discount amount.
6) Be persistent about following up with them. If they tell you they are working on it, I would follow-up once or twice a week until you have a signed agreement.
7) Once you've reached an agreement, and the agreed amount has been paid, get a zero balance statement from the office so that you have documentation that you have settled the account.