Should You Sign This Nursing Home Agreement? Part 1

The paperwork you are confronted with when a loved one enters a Houston area nursing home can be overwhelming. And if you are not careful with what you sign and how you sign it, you can end up volunteering to assume much more financial responsibility than you intend or are required to by law to without even knowing it. I don’t want you to be caught off guard so I am beginning a series of articles that will go over some of the key provisions in local nursing home admission contracts that you might want to be aware of. Today we are going to go through some of the documents that Lawrence Street Health Care Center in Tomball might ask you to sign so you can be aware of the potential trouble spots.

The first document we will look at is a one page document titled Client/Patient Service Agreement/Authorization of Benefits under a header for MedTrac Solutions, Inc Revised 6/1/12. One section I would be concerned about if they were asking me to sign this document is the “Financial Responsibility” section. It provides “I understand that […] I, the beneficiary, or the financial responsible party indicated above or in my facility records, will be obligated to pay for any co-insurance or deductible amounts not covered […].” To me that looks like a personal financial guarantee of responsibility and if you don’t take the proper steps it could be used against you, individually.

Next we are going to look at some pages in the “Admission and Financial Agreement.” We get off to a quick start here where at the top of the first page they ask for the name, address, and telephone number of someone who is signing the Agreement as Guarantor. If you allow yourself to be identified as Guarantor in your individual capacity then you are making a personal Guarantee for the financial obligations in the Agreement and could be sued for breach of those obligations. So what are some of the financial obligations the Guarantor is guaranteeing?

There is a “Failure to Pay” section on page 4 which gives us a glimpse of that guarantee. It provides “The Resident. Guarantor and/or Legal Representative jointly agree to pay all fees and charges not covered by insurance benefits […].” So there you go, the Guarantor and Legal Representative who sign this Agreement are jointly agreeing to pay all fees and charges not covered by insurance which would also include charges not paid due to a mistake in establishing nursing home Medicaid eligibility. If it were me I would be very careful about how I approached this contract that is trying so desperately to make me responsible for someone else’s debts. One wrong move and you could be stuck in a very vulnerable position.

I am out of space for this week so I am going to continue going through the Lawrence Street Health Care Center paperwork next week where I will continue to point out the rest of the provisions that I find particularly troubling. Until then, remember to read and understand everything any nursing home asks you to sign so you don’t get blindsided later on when problems develop. I can help you avoid making personal financial guarantees for nursing home bills with the proper steps and precautions before you sign anything, but once you sign the contract my hands are tied (and yours might be also). If you do not know how to protect yourself then it might be a good time to consider working with a Woodlands Medicaid nursing home lawyer to help your family navigate the road to Medicaid eligibility.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to establishing Medicaid eligibility.