Tips needed: How do you manage finances during a big medical event?

I’d like to gather your advice on managing health-related expenses. Here are some questions to get the conversation started. Feel free to tell me things that I don’t know to ask, too.

  • Do you know what your insurance covers, like finding out what treatments should be pre-approved, what’s in-network, etc.?
  • Did you get help from a hospital social worker or financial coordinator? How did they help?
  • What are some of the non-medical but related costs to consider like travel, time off work, childcare?
  • How do you organize your bills and paper-work to keep it all straight?
  • What organizations are available to apply for financial assistance to pay for treatment, travel and more?

What is the one thing you wish you had known? What advice do you offer others?

If you have any non-medical concerns regarding travel, and lodging please don't hesitate to contact Mayo Clinic Concierge services at 507-538-8438.

If you reside in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin, you may be eligible for assistance with travel, lodging and meal expenses through your county. County case workers should call Mayo Clinic Social Work at: (507) 284-2131.

Patients who are in need of assistance for their travel to Mayo Clinic can also refer to the Patient Travel Referral Program, operated by Mercy Medical Angels (888) 675-1405. This program can assist patients in determining need and a suitable means of travel. There is no cost for the information and it is available 24/7 online. The Patient Travel Referral program has many resources at its disposal to assist patients and their families including airline tickets, volunteer pilot organizations and ground transportation options.

REPLY

Hi Colleen,
What a fantastic topic to discuss.
As I read posts from so many people, I sadly see how many people can't get the help they need because of financial reasons.
My daughter is a social worker who is working at a dialysis unit.
We have discussed how many patients either don't take their meds regularly because of the cost or do not go for regular treatments for the same reason.
It is part of her job, once she is aware of some of her patient's limitations, to look into options that can help.
When she was a hospice social worker (her passion), she did similar tasks….get housekeeping, rides, meds, financial help with household builds (gas, electric, rent/mortgage, car payments, etc.).

I personally have found that each year when my insurance is renewed, my plan might be changed a little (or a lot). Often, I will be told in advance, by the doctor's office what is USUALLY not covered. It is then up to me to call the insurance company to find out. I am now on Medicare and I have been told more that once, when checking on a procedure, etc., that they won't know the coverage until they get the bill from the doctor and the codes. They can only give me the USUAL answer. So, it is important that the doctor codes the bill appropriately.

As far as the organization of bills, I keep a folder where I keep all my paperwork related to a particular event. I keep everything including published materials given to my by a doctor or hospital. I also include bills, test results, notes, any questions I have gotten answers for and copies of ALL PAPERS I TURN IN. In addition, I keep a log with answers to questions and phone calls with a summary. I include a date, name of the organization, name of person(s) I speak with, what is said and a summary of the call with the conclusion and recommendations. I find it impossible to remember who said what about this and that.

Through my daughter, she has helped me help friends with issues. She suggests checking with local government agencies, first. Many have offices for seniors or disabled, etc. If that does not work, then try state and federal governments.

I hope this is what you were talking about.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY

@grandmar ..,,,,..One thing I thought of is not to wait until the bill is due before calling & getting people’s names, etc. At that point, you’re already behind. Hope this is what you were referring to!!

REPLY

@colleenyoung
In my Dad’s situation who was paralyzed, his physical medicine doctor in Phoenix told us that in the future there would be doctors who will claim future ailments won’t be connected to your Spinal Cord Injury, “Don’t believe them.” I didn’t and I fought them and won in court or arbitration every time, saving him tens of thousands of dollars. I spent lots of time in medical libraries doing computer searches etc but it was well worth the effort.
Jake

REPLY

I feel so fortunate that we have not only medicare but also a great supplemental BCBS insurance policy. Still, managing the expenses vs. the payments can be horrific. I make a spreadsheet and recorded every single document I received from both medicare and BCBS. One of the problems is that sometimes they pay Mayo and sometimes they send me a check. I tabulated every document I received along with whether it was a direct pay or a check to me. Then, I put all the checks to me in a separate account – not my checking account – and I paid out of it as I was billed. It was a pain, but it allowed me to stay on top of all the financial activity.

REPLY

My husband and I knew that we would be facing a possiblity of a lengthy stay away from home. So one thing that really helped us – was to have our son added as an accepted signature at our bank for transactions. We also gave him the basic instruction to make only the regular or minimum payments when there was an option to keep it as simple as possible.

Liked by Leonard, beckyy39

REPLY
@grandmar

Hi Colleen,
What a fantastic topic to discuss.
As I read posts from so many people, I sadly see how many people can't get the help they need because of financial reasons.
My daughter is a social worker who is working at a dialysis unit.
We have discussed how many patients either don't take their meds regularly because of the cost or do not go for regular treatments for the same reason.
It is part of her job, once she is aware of some of her patient's limitations, to look into options that can help.
When she was a hospice social worker (her passion), she did similar tasks….get housekeeping, rides, meds, financial help with household builds (gas, electric, rent/mortgage, car payments, etc.).

I personally have found that each year when my insurance is renewed, my plan might be changed a little (or a lot). Often, I will be told in advance, by the doctor's office what is USUALLY not covered. It is then up to me to call the insurance company to find out. I am now on Medicare and I have been told more that once, when checking on a procedure, etc., that they won't know the coverage until they get the bill from the doctor and the codes. They can only give me the USUAL answer. So, it is important that the doctor codes the bill appropriately.

As far as the organization of bills, I keep a folder where I keep all my paperwork related to a particular event. I keep everything including published materials given to my by a doctor or hospital. I also include bills, test results, notes, any questions I have gotten answers for and copies of ALL PAPERS I TURN IN. In addition, I keep a log with answers to questions and phone calls with a summary. I include a date, name of the organization, name of person(s) I speak with, what is said and a summary of the call with the conclusion and recommendations. I find it impossible to remember who said what about this and that.

Through my daughter, she has helped me help friends with issues. She suggests checking with local government agencies, first. Many have offices for seniors or disabled, etc. If that does not work, then try state and federal governments.

I hope this is what you were talking about.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Hi Ronnie, I particularly note your comments re organization of medical bills. I find that daunting! How do you deal with the fact that insurance reports which include what was paid out for several different medical conditions appears on the same page and so would need to go in several different folders. You make seeral different copies of that same page? It all sounds rather time consuming!

Barbara B.

REPLY
@barbb

Hi Ronnie, I particularly note your comments re organization of medical bills. I find that daunting! How do you deal with the fact that insurance reports which include what was paid out for several different medical conditions appears on the same page and so would need to go in several different folders. You make seeral different copies of that same page? It all sounds rather time consuming!

Barbara B.

Jump to this post

@barbb

Good Morning,
I only organize bills for medical conditions that require several visits.
For example:
If I go to my PCP for a cold or yearly check up, I just put the bill in the folder.
If I go to my neurosurgeon and neurologist for my neuropathy, then those bills go into my NEUROPATHY folder.
If I get an insurance statement with several items on it, some of which are for the yearly check up, I just highlight those that refer to my NEUROPATHY.

Does this make sense????
Ronnie

REPLY
@grandmar

@barbb

Good Morning,
I only organize bills for medical conditions that require several visits.
For example:
If I go to my PCP for a cold or yearly check up, I just put the bill in the folder.
If I go to my neurosurgeon and neurologist for my neuropathy, then those bills go into my NEUROPATHY folder.
If I get an insurance statement with several items on it, some of which are for the yearly check up, I just highlight those that refer to my NEUROPATHY.

Does this make sense????
Ronnie

Jump to this post

I'm in HU D housing a senior independen living . I'm 79 years old and just got bill for 80,000. Which is about 50% of what I owe i talked to the social worker here and she got me approved for medicaid.

REPLY

@colleenyoung This is a great topic! We don't often think about all the organization that's required when something serious happens. Because I see two specialists and they are 100 miles away from where I live [one way] I keep copies of all of my lab results done, no matter who orders them. I can provide those copies to any medical professional who may need them. I take a notebook to every appointment and write all of my vitals down. I have pre-populated that page with any questions that I have thought about ahead of time for any visit that I make to a medical professional. Organizing finances during a medical event is crucial. Having someone that you can enlist to help you is a great thing because you might miss something or you need a second set of eyes to look at things. If you have a spouse or partner, that works fine. If you have a child you can trust, that works fine. Or reach out to a good friend and ask for their assistance. Whoever does it has to be somebody that you can trust. Educate yourself on what your insurance will cover. Don't be afraid to contact them if you have any questions ahead of time. They are there to assist you; you pay your premiums and they work for you! Education is power so don't feel bad about questioning things.
Ginger

REPLY

This great topic, if dealing with major or multiple medical issues, taking care of billing and insurance can be very stressful and time consuming at same time you have anxiety from medical conditions. I had three separate medical issues in 2018, and still trying to resolve some of the charges and insurance claims.

I have private insurance (Blue Cross) and not covered by Medicare.

Here are few things I do to help with billing and insurance:

Pre certification. If in doubt, call insurance company about what needs pre certification. My insurance company (Blue Cross) uses another company for pre certification (AIM) so sometimes it takes multiple calls. If something needs pre approval, call your clinic and make sure they know it requires pre approval. Never assume that the clinic knows what insurance company requires. At Mayo they have separate department that can help you with pre certification. Here is web site with Mayo contact info: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/tips-needed-how-do-you-manage-finances-during-a-big-medical-event/

In order to keep track of bills and insurance claims I use a spread sheet. For every medical charge, I enter the information into spread sheet. Example of information I enter: date, type visit, and amount clinic charged. When I receive the insurance EOB, I then enter the amount insurance paid.

This can be time consuming, but it makes it easier to determine if insurance has not processed a charge.
I also have separate tabs in spreadsheet to keep track of prescriptions, travel expense, parking, etc…

At tax time, this spreadsheet has all the information I need to determine medical costs for a year.

This process may not work for everyone, but I have been doing for years, and it works for me.

Laurie M.

REPLY

Hi all, Here's the video that YOU made. Thank you for all the tips you contributed to make this video. It is published on YouTube and was published on Mayo Clinic's app and through social media. I hope you'll share it with your networks. It's great advice: For patients by patients.

Thank you!

REPLY
@colleenyoung

Hi all, Here's the video that YOU made. Thank you for all the tips you contributed to make this video. It is published on YouTube and was published on Mayo Clinic's app and through social media. I hope you'll share it with your networks. It's great advice: For patients by patients.

Thank you!

Jump to this post

@colleenyoung Nice little video. It's brief enough to say what can be helpful without going into too much detail and causing people to turn it off.
Jane

REPLY
@gingerw

@colleenyoung This is a great topic! We don't often think about all the organization that's required when something serious happens. Because I see two specialists and they are 100 miles away from where I live [one way] I keep copies of all of my lab results done, no matter who orders them. I can provide those copies to any medical professional who may need them. I take a notebook to every appointment and write all of my vitals down. I have pre-populated that page with any questions that I have thought about ahead of time for any visit that I make to a medical professional. Organizing finances during a medical event is crucial. Having someone that you can enlist to help you is a great thing because you might miss something or you need a second set of eyes to look at things. If you have a spouse or partner, that works fine. If you have a child you can trust, that works fine. Or reach out to a good friend and ask for their assistance. Whoever does it has to be somebody that you can trust. Educate yourself on what your insurance will cover. Don't be afraid to contact them if you have any questions ahead of time. They are there to assist you; you pay your premiums and they work for you! Education is power so don't feel bad about questioning things.
Ginger

Jump to this post

I'm finishing up my transplant evaluation at Mayo Clinic in Florida next week, and having seen so many doctors and being given so much information, I will be making a notebook by specialty when I get home. I feel far more in control of my situation when I can be organized and I will be doing this. Fortunately, as soon as I received my liver failure diagnosis with a hospitalization for HE, I applied for Medicaid and Disability, and thankfully I was approved for both. My employer up to that time offered to continue paying in full for me to keep my BCBS, but I knew I couldn't afford the large copays for services so chose not to keep it and to get Medicaid instead. I'm having to rearrange my finances to survive on approximately 1/3 of what I made before and that is so devastating but throughout this process I've seen God at work and he has given me a peace about it so I'm not worried about the outcome.

REPLY
@beckyy39

I'm finishing up my transplant evaluation at Mayo Clinic in Florida next week, and having seen so many doctors and being given so much information, I will be making a notebook by specialty when I get home. I feel far more in control of my situation when I can be organized and I will be doing this. Fortunately, as soon as I received my liver failure diagnosis with a hospitalization for HE, I applied for Medicaid and Disability, and thankfully I was approved for both. My employer up to that time offered to continue paying in full for me to keep my BCBS, but I knew I couldn't afford the large copays for services so chose not to keep it and to get Medicaid instead. I'm having to rearrange my finances to survive on approximately 1/3 of what I made before and that is so devastating but throughout this process I've seen God at work and he has given me a peace about it so I'm not worried about the outcome.

Jump to this post

@beckyy39 you have a wonderful attitude. That will see you through almost anything.
JK

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.