Tips for Organizing Insurance Paperwork

By Rich O'Boyle, Editor
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Falling behind on paying insurance claims can create long-term problems for you and your elder. Perhaps you are just starting to care for an elder and find yourself with a pile of questionable forms, claims or old bills; or you are trying to organize your files for the first time. These basic tips can help you get started. Check the ElderCare Community Center's discussion areas frequently for other tips and support.

1. Download a copy of "Medicare Handbook" from the federal Health Care Financing Administration's website at

2. Start with a large accordian file folder and several manila folders. Organize all "Explanation of Medicare Benefit" hospital bills by DATE OF SERVICE. Medicare generally pays all hospital bills less a deductible (you are responsible for the deductible).

3. Collect all doctor bills and organize them along with the hospital bills. You are responsible for 20% of the bill, although some doctors may make special arrangements with you or your elder for lower charges.

4. Does your elder have a Medigap insurance policy or another private insurance plan? Send all unpaid bills to these "Third Party Payors." Some bills may be automatically sent to these other insurance providers. Try top arrange for the hospital or doctor to bill the third party directly.

5. Obtain a copy of your elder's private or Medigap insurance policy. Make sure your elder has been paying the premiums. Look in his/her check book for an indication of a premium payment to a large insurance carrier like Blue Cross-Blue Shield or Prudential).

There are many resources available to you to help you with insurance-related problems. Contact your local hospital's Community Relations office and ask about their "Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program." In addition, the federal Health Care Financing Administration's website has numerous publications on Medicare and Medicaid. Your third party insurer will also be able to answer any questions you have regarding their policies. ElderCare Online provides discussion areas where professionals and caregivers can share tips and support on this and other topics.

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