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I am financially responsible for my aging parents hospital bills?

Both my parents are older adults with health problems. Neither of them have any private health or hospital insurance. My concern is that the hospitals will come after me for unpaid bills since I am the only child and relative who is here locally with them and involved in their lives. I have three siblings that live out of state. No help from them.

I cant afford to be held finacially reponsibe for them.

Mom has been in and out of the hosp now for two months. Dad stays alone at home and I call and go over to check on him. I live 45 min away.

The stress of taking care of them is wearing me out and emotionally and physcially.

And does it matter that I put my name on a form for phone service in her room at the rehab hosp when I took in the deposit? After all, it was just for the phone, which I can handle. Will they now try to hold me responsible for more?

Please help!

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 5:53 AM on Aug. 12, 2009 in Money & Work

Answers (17)
  • Why aren't they on Medicaid or Medicare?

    Answer by Jafra_mommy at 6:10 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • Yeah, ditto to first post. Arent they eligible for medicare? Its very hard to care for ailing parents. I ve watched my mother care for her MIL who has dimentia and my grandmother has always cared for her family. Its very very hard work and is emotionally draining. No you are not responsible for them fianancially. Make sure when you go to the hospital, you ask them. THey might try and rope you into it, but just be clear that you are not in a position to do this. Also someone should be there to counsel you about things of this matter. Ask them if theres a way they can get on medicare. I dont know anyone over 65 thats NOT on medicare. Good luck. I feel for you.

    Answer by momofsaee at 6:20 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • No you can not be held responsible. They will take whatever is owed out of your parents estate when they pass away, if there is anything left. Look for a caregiver support group in your area. Ask the social worker at the hospital for resources to help you cope.

    Answer by warrenfamily95 at 7:23 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • Taking care of anyone is hard. If my parents were having health issues I would be glad to help them after all the help they have given me. If your parents don't have insurance and the companies choose to go after family in order to get paid then they can try it.

    Answer by lilbit022009 at 8:06 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • I don't believe you can be held responsible unless you sign a form saying that you will be responsible. I was just in the hospital last week for some surgery, and when I was registering, I had to fill out all these forms, one of which was a financial responsibility form. I had to fill in who would be responsible for my bill if insurance didn't cover it or if I didn't have insurance. I filled it in with my own name, of course, but I would imagine that would be where you would put your name IF you wanted to be responsible. If you don't, then I don't think there is anything the hospital can do. All they can do is go after your parents, put it in collections, whatever normal process they would use for anyone else. And like someone else said, try to collect from the estate once your parents have passed on.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 8:16 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • You CAN be held responsible if you sign for them. Just dont sign. OK!? explain to the admitting office your just there for moral support &/or a driver. Some hospitals especially catholic hospitals will help you set up medicade/medicare and any other type of assistance. Our catholic hospital in our town has a community donations supported fund that goes to the hospital to help the under financiallically or under insured patient. Check with their Social Worker. You may want to switch can do that as well.

    Answer by lacyjones at 8:18 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • The phone is a whole different thing than the hospital bill. You should talk to the billing office about getting them in every program they qualify for. They shouldn't come after you, but if your parents own a home, they will come after that once they pass. As a matter of fact they can force the estate to be liquidated and the family silver or whatever they have of value can be sold to pay the bills. Basically they can take your mother's engagement ring, but they can't touch you. Do contact the office at the hospital in charge of medicare and an elder law attorney.


    Answer by Anonymous at 8:40 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • I agree with the medicaid and that the hospital and rehab centers and nursing home will clean your parents out of all money. I was raised with my Grandmother in our home until she died. It is hard and draining to care for our parent's, but it is worth it. They may get cranky and may act like the 2 year old you never wanted, but they love you and you them. They help out is surprising ways and will forever change your relationship. Good luck, your Parents are lucky to have you.

    Answer by DevilInPigtails at 8:50 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • did you sign that form that you would pay if the insurance didn't?

    if yes, then you unfortunatly are responsible. you can't get around it now.

    you can try and apply for medicare for them b/c they do go back 90 days and will take older unpaid bills if you petition and have extenuating circumstances.

    you can try and see if your county has "county insurance". this is not medicaid/medicare. this is thru the "economic self-sufficency" office in your county. you can get approved on a 3 month basis.

    you can try and see if the hopsital has a hardship program.....look for a social worker at the hospital.

    good luck!!

    Answer by that_one_chick at 9:15 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

  • You need to get them on medicare and medicaid.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:27 AM on Aug. 12, 2009

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