It might be one of your worst nightmares: you’re in a serious automobile accident and wind up in the hospital for a lengthy period of time, possibly in a coma on a respirator. Medicare billing may be the last thing on your mind, but if you’re physically or psychologically unable to pay your bills, you may be unable to do so.
If you’re in the hospital, here are some measures to assist you manage your Medicare expenses, including the sort of legal authorization you’ll need to have someone else handle your bills for you and how missing payments may damage your coverage.
Using a durable power of attorney to pay Medicare costs
Having a family member or friend pay your Medicare costs while you’re in the hospital, or consulting with your doctor about medical choices regarding you, may appear to be a straightforward option. Your loved ones, on the other hand, may not be authorized to act on your behalf. If you ever find yourself unable to make medical or financial choices for yourself, you may want to consider granting power of attorney to a loved one.
Keeping meticulous records of your Medicare expenses is essential.
It’s a good idea to keep a thorough list of all of your Medicare expenses, including monthly payments like premiums, in case something goes wrong and you need someone else to manage your finances.
Keep a running track of your Medicare billing information in one place so you can simply pass it on to the person you’ve chosen to represent you via power of attorney if necessary. You might wish to include the following:
- Contact information for insurance companies, doctors, specialists, suppliers: basically, anyone who might send you a Medicare bill
- Invoices, receipts, or outstanding bills
- Online account information: if you pay for your bills online, have your username and password information available in a secure place.
Setting up automatic payments for Medicare billing
While you may prefer to pay your Medicare bills by mail, paying them electronically may be more convenient if you’re in the hospital. You might be able to pay your payment from your hospital bed if you have access to a smartphone or tablet, rather than having someone come to your house to look for your cheque book. When you pay your Medicare payments online, you reduce the chances of a check getting lost in the mail or being late.
Be sure to keep paying your Medicare premiums while you’re in the hospital or you could lose your Medicare coverage. If you’re currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits, your Part B premium (and your Part A premium, if you pay one) will usually be automatically deducted from your Social Security check. Otherwise, you’re typically billed every three months.
You might look at Medicare Easy Pay, which allows you to set up automatic payments.
Premiums aren’t the only form of Medicare expense, though. You may have cost-sharing costs like as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance even after Medicare pays its portion, and you may receive a separate bill if you aren’t asked to pay at the time you receive the treatment.
What happens if you don’t pay your Medicare bill on time?
Sometimes, even with the best-laid plans, you may miss a Medicare bill while you’re in the hospital. So, what happens then?
The way Medicare billing works for premiums is this: If you stop paying your Part A and/or Part B premiums, you may lose your coverage. You’re billed quarterly for Medicare premiums, so if you’ve just paid for your premium and wind up in the hospital, you’ll have three months before your next payment is due. If you get a bill for your Medicare premium and don’t pay it by the 25th of that month, you’ll get a second bill the next month. If you don’t pay the second Medicare bill by the 25th of that month, you’ll be sent a third, “delinquent bill.” If you still fail to pay, your coverage may be canceled. If you’re still in the hospital after this grace period has ended, you may have to pay for services out of pocket.
Medicare billing and Medicare health plans
Another category of Medicare billing is the bills you get from your Medicare health or prescription drug plans, if these apply to you.
When it comes to Medicare bills like copayments or coinsurance, each provider may have a different policy. Some may offer a grace period, which will vary, but you may have to pay an extra fee if your payment is late. In some cases, the provider may refer you to a collection agency after a certain period. It may be wise to make sure you know your plan’s Medicare billing policy.
To play it safe and avoid missed or late Medicare bills – or losing your coverage entirely – you may want to take precautions related to Medicare billing: set up automatic payments or make sure you have durable power of attorney in place in case you’re in the hospital and unable to handle your Medicare billing yourself.
This article is only for general information and is not tax or legal advice. Consult your tax or legal advisor for guidance