How can I talk to my elderly father to ensure he is reviewing his medical bills carefully and not overpaying?


A: Like many elderly people, your father may be sensitive about having you "look over his shoulder" to check up on him, and he may be defensive if you suggest that he is not managing his finances effectively. The truth of the matter is that navigating the health care system has become so complicated that many of us need professional help to make sure bills are correct and insurance claims are paid.

So one way to approach the conversation would be to say something about how complicated everything has become – you could cite an article you have read or mention a story about a friend's situation to make sure your father understands that everyone has difficulty with this (not just him.) You could even provide some objective evidence, for instance, according the American Medical Association (AMA,) one in five medical claims is processed incorrectly – so it's a very good idea to check everything closely. When it comes to actually reviewing the bills and claims, it may be easier on your relationship if you hire an unbiased third-party (i.e., a billing advocate) to do this for him, just like he might get professional help with his taxes.

A billing advocate may also be able to find other ways to save money by reviewing your father's insurance plan and usage to see if there's a better plan available, and it will also save you time and energy.

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