” I am not telling you is going to be easy, I am telling you is going to be worth it!”
As many of you may already know, November is caregivers’ month; thus, I will talk about an issue that affects caregivers and patients alike.
The care giver has many responsibilities and roles in making sure that their loved ones needs are met. Among one of the biggest responsibilities a care partner or giver may have is being responsible for the financial stability of the Patient fully or in part. But, even when the patient is able to care for him or herself financially he or she may still need an advocate to help decipher the ever complex and confusing world of doctor and hospital bills.
This becomes more pressing as the disease advances and dementia begins to set in. Those of you who have a chronic illness or care for someone with a progressive debilitating illness like Parkinson’s know that as the disease advances the need for services ( PT, OT, Pain doctors etc.) increases exponentially. Subsequently, the amount of bills you receive also increases at an alarming rate. The rate can suddenly shift to ‘a warp speed’ if your loved one ends up having procedures or being hospitalized; especially if the hospitals stay is lengthy.
In which case, you can find yourself being inundated in bills and paper work. This can drive a person mad trying to make heads and tails especially when the person you are caring for needs 24 hour care or pretty constant supervision in all other aspects of care from grooming to ensuring they take their medications properly.
Here are a few tips that I have learned to help simplify life. These can be used whether you are a patient or a caregiver.
First, set a side a special box or place where you will place all the mail relating to this subject/away from all other mail so it can be easily accessed.
Second, make sure that you know what your insurance covers in and out of the hospital before you have tests, procedures; become hospitalized; so there are no surprises. If you have Medicare go to Medicare.gov. Otherwise get a copy of benefits/coverage from your insurers.
Third, designate an area and a time when you will dedicate exclusively to this. once a month is good if not so many bills but if having ongoing procedures, hospitalizations, and doctors evaluations, you will most likely start receiving bills weekly if not daily therefore be best to tackle once a week to avoid getting yourself overwhelmed.
1) Make a proper binder to place all the (EOB’s- extended office bills) and label yearly. Also if hospitalization extends several months put color dividers to delineate various months. The same can be done if patient had doctor’s appointment or procedures extending various months.
2) Do not pay a single bill until you receive an explanation of benefits from your insurance/ compare it with doctor’s bill and pay only after they have paid their part. If you have secondary insurance have to wait till both insurances have paid. Which usually means you should not have to pay anything unless at beginning of insurance cycle when you have to meet your deductibles. (the beginning for your calendar year may vary slightly but usually around the last quarter of the year or first quarter of the new year). For Medicare the deductibles are due at the beginning of every year.
3) If you detect a problem- call your insurance company customer- service first and make sure you get names and dates of whom you speak to and if checks issued get amounts, to whom, dates issued and check numbers.
4) Once a certain bill is paid – make sure you check off ( and remove from your pile /box and file into binder in section labeled paid) so you don’t pay again or have to deal with it again because sometimes may get duplicate! Look at it carefully for services and dates!!! Use a red pen or marker to check off
5) If the problem is at doctor’s office or hospital, make sure you speak with billing person directly.
6) Always take good notes.
7) Usually insurances give discounts so pay close attention and if doctors office or hospital tries to bill you for difference when you have received a discount, send them copy of EOB. If no discount listed in your invoice call your insurance to make sure whether one should be applied.
8) Always make sure that bills are sent to correct insurance with right policy number and that everyone has correct spelling of patients name to avoid claim errors.
9) At times claims are kicked back due to coding errors, so always inquire if there were any problems with codes causing it to be denied which you could address with your doctors or hospital billing office.
If you remember these simple tips: you can avoid going mad when bills come in daily. Happy trailing’s!!
Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at http://www.facebook.com/defeatparkinsons101 you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.pdf.org or at www.wemove.org; http://www.aan.org, http://www.defeatparkinsons.blogspot.com All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org contributor http://www.assisted-living-directory.com Contributor http://www.lavozbrazoriacounty.com