No matter how long you’re there, visiting the hospital tends to be a stressful, uncomfortable and inconvenient experience. With careful planning, though, from getting a hospital insurance plan to making sure you’re asking the right questions, any hospital stay can be a breeze.
Before You Go
When preparing for a hospital stay — whether you’ve got a planned procedure coming up or you just want to be ready if you ever need to go unexpectedly — it’s important to know what your insurance covers and how much you’ll pay for certain medical services. If you’re planning a future stay, be sure that the hospital you’re visiting is in your network to avoid added out-of-network costs. By looking at your plan’s summary of benefits, you can see what hospital benefits are covered and what kinds of out-of-pocket expenses you might need to budget for.
You may also want to invest in hospital insurance, such as a supplemental hospital indemnity plan. This will cover additional costs that standard coverage won’t completely take care of. A hospital indemnity plan will pay you a fixed cash benefit for every day you spend in the hospital, expectedly or otherwise, to use as you wish. The most common use for a hospital insurance plan is to cover the cost of copays, deductibles and prescription drugs, among other expenses that create additional financial strain, but you’re not limited to just the obvious options. The ability to use this cash on things like bills, child care and rent means that hospitalization doesn’t have to put your life on hold.
While You’re There
Keep your eyes and ears open throughout your stay to create a running list of questions you want to ask your doctors and nurses. What is your recovery going to look like, and is your progress on track? What medications and procedures might you encounter during your stay? When can visitors come and bring you flowers?
If you have any concerns about your medical care or recovery, be open about them when you talk to your doctors. The average U.S. hospital stay lasts about 5 days, but quick visits can turn into extended stays if complications arise during or after procedures. Keep your time in the hospital as short as possible by asking direct and comprehensive questions about your care.
And if there’s anything hospital staff can do to make your stay more comfortable in other ways, don’t be afraid to ask. While hospitals are busy places, everyone running them wants patients to have the best experience possible.
After You Leave
Once you’ve folded up your hospital gown and settled back in at home, you’ll hardly want to sit down and study what it cost you. But it’s important to review the billing statements you’ve collected throughout your stay and make sure that everything has been filed appropriately with your insurance provider. Taking the time to itemize your expenses as soon as possible can save you a lot of hassle and money later on — it’s better to catch any billing errors or issues early. Do it with a soothing mug of hot chocolate in hand, if it makes it easier — you’ve definitely earned it.
From there, be sure to follow your doctors’ orders, keep any follow-up appointments you’ve scheduled and call with any questions that arise. The last thing you need is to be readmitted to the hospital and start the whole process over again, especially for something you could have easily avoided.
If you have a game plan ready, a hospital stay doesn’t have to bring your life to a halt, financially or otherwise. Go back over these tips before and throughout your stay to make your hospital visit run as smoothly as possible.