Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unintended humor... and it could be worse

One of the traits I admired most about our son was his compulsion to make sure he paid off his bills. Over the course of his sometimes-troubled life, he got himself in several major financial messes thanks to bad decisions about trying to help people who were taking advantage of him and the help of predatory lenders, but he managed to get all of those debts paid off before he got sick. Indeed, about a month before he was diagnosed with cancer, he made the last payment to the last predatory lender and was excited about the prospect of saving that money so he could move out on his own. Yes, he did have some help -- we were a safety net for him and let him live with us -- but he did not freeload. No need. Even though the “room and board” we charged him was a lot less than he would have paid on rent, food, and utilities had he been living on his own, he did pay us as well.

By the time he died, he owed nothing. He paid the cost of transporting his body to the  research facility by selling his guns, and he paid off his credit card bill with January check he got from Social Security. But it now seems there may be some additional bills that neither he nor we were anticipating because of confusion with Medicaid, hospice, and the nursing home.

My mother often remarked that she thought she had an odd sense of humor, and I sometimes wonder if I have not also inherited a strange way of looking at the world. At any rate, gales of laughter rang out at our house this morning after I read the letter our son received yesterday from the Missouri Department of Social Services informing him, that “you are no longer eligible for…. the vendor nursing home program” due to the reason listed below, which is (cutting through government gobbledygook) “you are dead.”
And it goes on to inform him that, “if you disagree with this decision, you have the right to request a hearing…

Obviously, of course, we would be the ones to fill out the form and request the hearing, but I had this sudden vision of our boy showing up at a hearing--as ghost--to protest the fact that they had cut him off on Jan 13, the day that he died.

The timing is sort of tricky. He was admitted to the nursing home on Dec 17, and he died on Jan 13, so he was a resident there a few days short of 1 month.

The nursing home arranged for an ultrasound examination that ended about 30 minutes before he died, and there is the possibility that the images from this were read by a radiologist later that day--after he died--or possibly the next day. So one wonders who is paying that bill? Medicaid?

Also, we may end up having to pay for part of his stay in the nursing home. We were told that hospice would bill Medicaid for the nursing home bill, and then pay the nursing home. And in December Nathaniel, had done the “pay down” for January that Medicaid required when his full Social Security benefit kicked in November. Yet another letter we received about a week ago indicates that because of a change in vendor status, he will owe about $1,000 for the time he stayed in the nursing home.

It is all very confusing, and we have decided to do nothing about any of this because we figure the parties involved (hospice, Medicaid, and the nursing home) will get it all sorted out. We think that perhaps he will actually owe about $500, which we will recoup when we sell his car. So, we are not stressing about this. It is sort of like standing back and watching a “Chinese fire drill,” a term my dad used to use, which was a gag I remembering seeing done in the silent movies, and “figuratively refers to a large, ineffective, and chaotic exercise—by a group of individuals that accomplishes nothing.

And then on to less humorous matters…

Thursdays are going to be a minefield for us during lunchtime for a while, I think, and so we left the house at 10:45 on Thursday to eat out and shop at the discount grocery. Shortly after we got back, I received a phone call from a woman whose boys were friends with our son when they all attended a small one-room schoolhouse out in the country for about 4 years. She had three boys, and our son used to go to her house fairly regularly to play with her sons. She called to tell me that she had just found out that Nathaniel had died, and to express her condolences, and then she began sobbing as she told me that her middle son, who was about Nathaniel’s age, had killed himself within the last few days.

In the midst of one of my “pity parties,” I had thought that it couldn’t get much worse than losing a child (unless it might be that several of one’s children died at once), but then I realized, that yes, it certainly could get worse…


Far Side of Fifty said...

Oh no..such sadness for your friend.

The government red tape is something else..we are still getting Medicare stuff for my Mother In Law and she has been deceased a number of years. You are entirely correct..a Chinese fire patient and it will all sort itself out.

What a hero Nathaniel was to send his body to much can be learned from his gift..perhaps other Mothers sons will be saved someday.

Take good care of yourself..I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of your grief..:(

Oklahoma Granny said...

I'm catching up on blog reading this morning as my computer has been busy with other things for the last few days.

Your story about the letter you received and your son giving his body to research brought to mind my husband's uncle. He arranged to donate his body to research but failed to tell anyone in the family - not even his wife. Weeks after his funeral, his wife received a letter from the institution that he donated his body to. They were asking about her husband's body.