Amanda’s mom, Helen, had a recent hospital stay for a bout of pneumonia. Thankfully, Helen made a full recovery and was able to return to her home afterward. Amanda was Helen’s primary caregiver and took care of all manners of things, including helping Helen with her finances. Like many seniors, Helen was on a fixed budget and sometimes struggled to pay unexpected bills. Not only was the bill for Helen’s hospitalization unexpected, it was also quite large even after Medicare paid its share. Amanda had no idea how her mother would pay the bill or what to do about it.
As a family caregiver, do you worry about finding yourself in Amanda’s situation, trying to figure out how to help your elderly parent pay their medical bills? If so, it can help to be armed with a few tips for negotiating the bill and its payment. Here are a few ideas that may help.
Get an Itemized Statement.
This step won’t necessarily lower the bill or give you more time to pay it, but it will help you to know exactly what the older adult is paying for. Sometimes hospitals do make mistakes, though. Examining an itemized bill might help you to identify duplicated charges or other mistakes.
Ask an Expert to Review the Bill.
You may be able to get a doctor or nurse to review the bill for any errors. Their expertise may enable them to spot duplicated fees, such as for an item used on its own and also billed as part of a kit. They may also spot procedures or items that would not have been used for your parent’s condition. Ideally, you have a family friend or relative who is a doctor or nurse. If not, you may be able to get help through the hospital itself. It never hurts to ask!
Ask for a Payment Plan.
Most hospitals have procedures in place to help people who cannot pay their bill immediately, such as payment plans. Ask about setting your parent up on a plan that lets them pay a set amount each month.
Talk to a Patient Advocate.
Some hospitals have patient advocates on staff who are trained to help families explore their options for assistance, including financial assistance as it applies to medical bills. Ask if the hospital has a patient advocate and if you can schedule an appointment.
Do Not Ignore the Bill.
The idea of paying a huge bill can be intimidating and caregivers may be tempted to ignore the bill when there isn’t enough money. However, that will make the situation worse. It’s better to contact the hospital and explain the situation. Offer to pay what your parent can afford. Making a good faith payment can make the hospital more willing to work with you.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering caregiver services in Temecula, CA, talk to the caring staff at Cambrian Home Care today. (562) 498-1800 / (877) 390-4300