Frustrated by Health Care Bills
I am so frustrated that I could scream. Managing my family’s health care bills is trying and time-consuming. On top of all that, I must oversee my mother’s health care and all of her claims. Frankly, it takes more time than I have to give and is a bit overwhelming. Why does health care billing have to be so complicated? I rarely understand the bills, much less know how and when to pay. How does anyone keep up with caring for a parent while managing their bills?
Clearly, you have quite a bit to manage with your family and your mother. Managing two households is a lot for anyone to handle. There is a reason the term “sandwich generation” was coined because you are caught in the middle and are being squeezed by needy individuals on both sides.
If you are the caregiver and bill payer for two families, you may have more responsibility than is reasonable, which can certainly lead to burnout. Bill paying requires concentration and blocks of time. Health care claims require additional components, patience, and quiet. Without these things, you will likely become frustrated, perhaps misdirecting this frustration at someone in a billing department.
It may alleviate some of your stress to learn why health care billing is complex. It is because our society has layered on something called health insurance. The days of you paying the doctor directly with one easy fee are long gone. Most people today have insurance. In the case of your mother, if she is of Medicare age, she could have three or four policies- Medicare Part A, B, D and a supplemental, perhaps with an additional long-term care policy. These insurances have a variety of deductibles and coverage rules. Hospitals and doctors negotiate contracts with insurance companies for discounts so that what you or your insurance pays differs from what is charged. Could this be any more confusing? It is possible, but I doubt it.
Offload bill paying to another family member, as you have clearly reached your limit.
If there is no one but you to tackle bills, schedule alone time with the claims so that you can think clearly and study what you have received. You may also need your policies.
Ask questions until you understand what to do. Be prepared to call the provider of care, whose number is likely on the bill. Do not be dismayed if you need to call more than once. I have.
Please avoid losing your temper out of frustration. The person answering the phone did not establish the provider’s billing policies.
You are right. Health care claims are more complex than the average bill, and you have every right to feel frustrated. But by using some of these tips with persistence and patience, your workload can be lightened.
I wish you the best.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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