Have your paperwork organized
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This is the third post in a series I'm writing after my experience with three emergency room visits and a three day hospitalization. Please see Part 1 and Part 2 for more ideas on how to be prepared medically. *Please note: I am not a medical professional. The suggestions I make are based on my own needs. You may need to do something different to fit your own situations. For more great ideas, please see the blog Prepared Binder. Laura has great tips on HOW to get your paperwork in order.
Once you are settled in to your hospital room, you will find that the billing department of the hospital isn't too far behind your arrival. They want to know exactly how they are going to be paid for your stay. If you have been organized with your paperwork prior to your hospitalization, you will find this process to be whole lot easier to get through and much less stressful.
If you have health insurance that will be covering your visit, it may be as easy as showing your insurance card to the registration department. They will look up your co-pays and deductibles, and they will bring in paperwork for you to sign. You will most likely be agreeing to pay whatever your insurance does not, and you will be on your way. (At this point you may be tempted to freak out about the portion of your bill that will not be covered. DON'T! Your job is to work on recovering from illness or injury. There will be plenty of time to worry about payment after you are well.)
Some of us, like me, do not have health insurance. I'm not going to get into a discussion about WHY I don't, but like millions of other Americans I am not covered. Again, this is not the moment to panic. Your job is to get well! A social services representative will most likely come to your room to help you figure this all out (this will definitely vary by state and hospital). In my case, the patient services representative from the hospital helped me fill out forms to get emergency coverage from the state.
This is where having paperwork in order is VERY important! The state insurance coverage needs to know everything about your life. You WILL feel they are prying into your business, and it is a blow to your self esteem. I'm not going to sugar coat that part. It is difficult to be in this situation. Having your paperwork in order definitely helps to feel like you are somewhat in control.
When I was in the hospital, the state sponsored insurance representative needed everything from my birth certificate to pay stubs from the job I had been working until I got sick. While I did need to locate some information, for the most part I had everything together in a binder. I was able to tell my husband exactly where the binder was and asked him to bring it to me in the hospital. It would have been a stress fest if I could not have located those important documents so quickly. The process was made much easier by being organized.
No matter what your situation, being in the hospital or being subject to serious illness of any kind can bring your family into an extremely uncomfortable position. By having all of your paperwork organized and easy to find, life is made that much better. I highly suggest starting today on getting your vital documents together and in a place where you and your spouse can easily get to them.