Your loved one is finally out of the hospital. You’re getting used to the new daily,
weekly and monthly routines. All of a sudden, you notice that there is a lot more mail
than there used to be. Envelopes that look like bills are arriving from Dr. So and So,
Chemistry Lab or City Medical Practice. Other strange envelopes are starting to show up
with important-sounding return addresses. Some may say, “Explanation of Benefits” on the
outside. What does all this mean to you, the overworked caregiver?
The overflow of insurance paperwork can be very confusing, especially if you hate it the way I do.
But, there are ways to wade through some of this. I am not an expert on insurance matters, but I
have some suggestions to keep it from feeling like the end of the world when you get the flood of
paperwork. Chances are that it’s not as bad as you think. How long have you been dealing with the
paperwork? If it is six months or less, you will be all right, but even if it has been longer, you
can work through it.
Get yourself a box of file folders and make a folder for each doctor and/or hospital. Now, start
putting the Explanations of Benefits and the bills in the right folder for each doctor. Once you have
things in place, then you can start matching up the payments made with the bills that have been sent.
Go by dates. It usually takes Medicare and other insurance companies awhile to get it together, so
the payment may be at least a month later than the bill date. (Big secret: they are in worse
organizational shape than you are!) Ask a good friend or trusted relative that you consider to be
organized to help you and to keep you from panicking when you start filing.
Wait until you have finished your organizing before calling the doctors’ offices. If you have solid info
in hand, you will feel more in control. Call and say you are verifying the amount still open on the bill. You can also then say you have not yet received the information they are giving you (if that is true, of course) because you will have all of your information in front of you. Don’t worry if you don’t seem to have everything. Go with what you have. Ask questions. Ask for copies of missing documents. Look for them in the mail. Explain your circumstances. Keep asking questions until you understand.
Next time you go to each doctor’s office, pick up the business card of the office manager, billing person
or insurance person so you have his or her contact information available. Staple it to the inside front cover of the proper folder.