Mom Complains of Health Care Costs
“My 89-year-old mother complains whenever she receives any kind of health care bill. She has few out-of-pocket expenses, except for dental. She has Medicare A, B, and D, plus a supplemental. She has plenty of money to pay these bills, and she doesn’t even touch her principal for living expenses. How do I get Mom to stop complaining about health care costs?”
Your mother has very comprehensive coverage for medical care. For doctor’s visits, medication, hospitalizations, and out-patient care, she should have almost no cost unless she takes many medications.
Now, let’s put things into perspective.
Your mother has seen quite a bit of inflation in the cost of health care over her lifetime. So today’s costs will seem extremely high in comparison. It may be difficult for her to wrap her head around the costs relative to her savings or other expenses, especially if she has not had to pay a bill for health care in a while. Also, most people are quite surprised when they see the set charges, even if they are covered by their insurance. They recognize it would be very difficult or impossible to pay for their care without insurance.
Like those of her generation, she was a child during the depression and likely did without many of the luxuries we are used to today. She does not want to be poor again and is being protective of her money. What you say is unlikely to change how she feels deep down. Also consider that she may not have as much going on in her life to talk about as you do, so a new bill is something to talk about. I am sure you have noticed that many elderly do not have a problem giving you detailed accounts of their medical issues.
Gently remind your mother that she has very good coverage for her health care needs and maybe offer to assist her with exploring dental insurance if she is interested. You can also share with her what typical premiums and deductibles are for working people. Today’s workers pay far more in health insurance premiums than the World War II generation did while were working. We are also living longer, with more frequent access to health care.
When Mom starts complaining about the cost of health care, it wouldn’t hurt to ask her about her coverage. Find out if she is dissatisfied with her current insurance. Would she like you to explore other options? Or is she just making conversation about what is going on in her life?
Please do not be surprised or annoyed that your mother talks about her health or the cost of health care. It is a common topic among the elderly. After you have explored any potential change she may desire, you can feel comfortable either listening to or changing the subject when given the chance.
I wish you the best.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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