One of the biggest lies any one of us ever tells is checking the “I have read the Terms and Conditions” box on literally anything to do with technology or being online. Of course, that’s easy to do, isn’t it? Just hit “Accept” and you’re done. No waiting, no hassle, no nothing. Just done. Unfortunately, real life isn’t at all like that, and when we agree to anything of any kind of importance, there are usually pages upon pages of things we have to read before we can actually agree to it. After all, we want to know that we understand exactly what we can expect from whatever it is. This is most especially true in the realm of health care and caring for our elderly loved ones. Specifically, we’ll be looking at how to understand a nursing home admission agreement.
First, take your time and do not rush through the document. If at all possible, let your attorney see and through the agreement before you sign it. You should do this because some agreements may have illegal or otherwise misleading provisions. Also, DO NOT sign the agreement until after the resident has already decided to move in. Once they move in, you’ll have a lot more leverage to work with. Though, if you have to sign it beforehand, be sure and ask the nursing home to delete any and all illegal or unfair terms from the agreement.
There are a couple of common things in these kinds of agreements you need to watch out for—a requirement that you are liable for the resident’s expenses, and a binding arbitration agreement. Let’s take a closer look at each now:
There’s a possibility the nursing home might try to get family members to sign the agreement stating that those members are the “responsible part.” DO NOT AGREE TO THIS TERM! Nursing homes are forbidden from requiring any third parties to guarantee payment of any bills, but they might try to get families to voluntarily agree to it anyway.
If they are able to do so, the resident should sign the agreement him- or herself. If this is not possible, you can do it as their family member. However, you should remember to clarify that you are doing so as the resident’s agent. If you sign as a responsible party, you may then be obligated to pay the nursing home if the resident cannot do so on their own. Look over the agreement carefully, looking out for any terms like “responsible party,” “guarantor,” “financial agreement,” or anything similar. Before you sign, you can cross out any terms indicating yourself as the responsible party for payment, and clearly indicate that you’re only agreeing to use income and resources from the resident themselves to pay for care.
Many admission agreements for nursing homes include a provision that states that any and all disputes over the care of the resident will be decided through arbitration.
Let’s quickly look at three other provisions you might run across in this agreement.
Private Pay Requirement
It is illegal for a nursing home to require a Medicare or Medicaid recipient to pay the private rate for a short time. Also, they cannot require a resident to affirm that he or she is not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid if he or she actually is.
By law, the nursing home cannot authorize eviction of any resident for reasons other than the following:
- The nursing home cannot meet the needs of the resident
- The health of the resident has improved
- Other residents are endangering the resident’s presence
- The resident hasn’t paid
- The nursing home is closing down
Waiver of Rights
Finally, any provision that waives the nursing home’s liability for any lost or stolen personal items is illegal. It is also illegal for them to waive liability for the resident’s health.
If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.