What to Do With Your Children When You Have a Health Emergency

Mom Overwhelmed While Kids Fight.You’ve been hit with the flu. Or you need to go to the hospital right away (either for yourself or to take a loved one). You can’t just hide under the covers or fly out the door because you have kids at home. So what do you do with your children when you have an unexpected health emergency?

In most cases you are going to want to have someone watch the kids. It may be your spouse or an older child who can responsibly keep an eye on the younger ones. Extended family—parents and in-laws—can be great emergency support if they live nearby. If family isn’t an option, try the babysitter, a friend, or a trusted neighbor. Maybe another parent from your child’s school or scout troop or sports team can watch your children while you take care of the health emergency.

You may even want to plan your list of who to call before a health problem strikes. The less you have to think about or track down while you are sick or in a rush to care for someone else, the easier you’ll get through it.

If there is simply no one else who can take them, do the best you can with what you have. If you are home sick, let it be a movie marathon day for the kids. A day of television won’t melt their minds. Make sure the room is safe and they have plenty of quiet toys to play with. Then you take over the most comfortable spot where you can keep an eye on them while also being out of the way. The couch or a chair in the corner work well.

Let your kids know that, “Mommy isn’t feeling well,” and that you are going to need them to play quietly and not ask any questions. Will this work perfectly? Definitely not. But with a few reminders and some entertainment, your day may be a bit more restful than usual.

If you have to go to a doctor’s office or the hospital and you must bring your children, pack an activity bag with quiet toys—coloring books and crayons, notebook and stickers, stuffed friends, or even electronics with headsets—and clean, easy snacks and bottled water. Snacks and drinks are helpful in taming hungry tummies, which often turn into behavior meltdowns. Choose things that are easily cleaned up if they spill (because accidents happen). Think water or clear juice and fruit snacks, raisins, or dry cereal.

Are You an Inpatient When You Are In the ER?

High angle view of doctor defibrillating male patient while nursNo. One of our readers, Bob, was very surprised with this answer. Bob was taken to the ER after a car accident. He was treated and released. Following his ER visit, Bob got many bills saying he had to pay for much of the cost himself. He wondered why since he had good hospital insurance coverage.

I explained to Bob that insurance companies consider the ER an outpatient service. Your insurance often covers less of the cost of outpatient services than inpatient services. This is confusing since the ER is usually in the hospital.

Additionally, there are often many people who see you in the ER who will each likely send you a separate bill. The ER physician may send you a bill. You may get a bill from the radiologist who read your x-ray. You will also get a bill from the hospital for all the services you received in the ER. Since these are all outpatient services, you will likely have to pay for many of the costs out-of-pocket.

The average cost of an ER visit is approximately $1,265. It can cost a lot more depending on the seriousness of the visit and which tests are run.

If you are admitted to the hospital, the ER charges are often included in the hospital bill. However, if you are like Bob and you are sent home, you may be responsible for a large part of the bill.

Do you have any questions about your health insurance coverage? I’d love to hear from you!

MyHealthSpin helps you Spin Your Healthcare Your Way!

Check out how more information on insurance in our new book, Easy Healthcare: Choose Your Health Insurance.


How Can I Avoid ER “Observation?”

daughter hugging her fatherThis is a question Laura asked me this week. The answer is “talk to the ER doctor.”  

Laura explained to me that her dad wasn’t feeling well last month so she took him to the ER. The hospital held Laura’s Dad in the ER for several days. The room Laura’s Dad was in looked like a normal hospital room and she thought he was admitted to the hospital. However, as it turns out, he was actually in “observation.”

Observation means the physician is trying to decide whether the patient needs to be admitted to the hospital or can go home. The only way to know whether Laura’s dad was “admitted” or in “observation” was to ask. The hospital is not required to tell the patient that they are in observation. Medicare recommends that “observation” be limited to 24-48 hours, however, some hospitals keep patients in “observation” for much longer.

Laura and her dad found out why “observation” can be a problem. Laura’s Dad was referred to a rehabilitation facility upon leaving the ER. For many services like inpatient rehabilitation, you must have been admitted to the hospital for a certain period of time for your insurance to cover the service. Many insurance plans only cover rehabilitation facilities after a certain amount of time as an inpatient in the hospital. For example, you might need to be in the hospital for 3 days prior to being admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for your insurance to cover the rehabilitation costs. If you were in “observation” for 3 days, that will not meet the requirements by your insurance company.

How do you avoid this problem?

  1. Talk to your doctor and ask whether you are admitted or in observation.
  2. If you think you must go from the ER to another care facility, ask the hospital whether it is necessary to be admitted into the hospital to get coverage.
  3. If you find out you are in observation, insist on being admitted if it is necessary to stay in the hospital.

Have you ever been placed in “observation” in the ER? How long did it last? I’d love to hear from you!

MyHealthSpin helps you Spin Your Healthcare Your Way!

Check out how more information on insurance in our new book, Easy Healthcare: Choose Your Health Insurance.