Needing help: What do you do when your parents require more care than you can provide for them? *iStock photo
Needing help: What do you do when your parents require more care than you can provide for them? *iStock photo

Question: In 2006 I went to visit my doctor for a service that was covered by insurance. I thought it had been dealt with, but just last week I received a bill from my doctor’s office requesting my portion of the bill. Am I required to pay this?

The simple answer is “No”; and here’s why.

According to the Limitation Act 1984, Section 7: “An action found on simple contract shall not be brought after the expiration of 6 years from the date on which the cause of the action was accrued.”

If your visit was in 2006, your provider’s ability to bill you expired last year.

In addition, since last August healthcare providers are required to submit claims within a year of providing a service; though this is only for services that occurred after 1st August 2012.

This new provision was brought about by the Health Insurance (Health Service Providers & Insurers) (Claims) Regulations 2012, which are better known for abolishing upfront charges, but also put in place billing and payment requirements.

Question: I work full time and I also have ageing parents who require some care, i.e. for grocery shopping or visiting the doctor.
I love my parents, but if one of them had a slip or fall and had to visit the hospital, I can see the incentive for allowing them to become long-term patients — their hospitalization is almost entirely covered by Government.

I don’t want my parents to end-up in the hospital, but I cannot sustain this homecare on my own. Is there any help on the way?

Bermuda, like the rest of the world, is struggling with an ageing population and you are not alone in your struggles.

Of course this sentiment does not help you care for your parents while trying to juggle your job and other responsibilities, so let’s try to help.

The last thing you want is for their health to suffer with a lack of support for their personal care needs.

Organizations such as the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged (www.gov.bm) and Age Concern (www.ageconcern.bm) may be able to help arrange personal care for your parents and/or help connect you with a support system for caregivers.

Your second point is also the concern of “leaving” seniors in the hospital after their acute symptoms have been addressed. Within the coming months, there will be provision for home medical services to be covered by any insurance plan.

This benefit will allow for medical services such as wound care and pain management to be covered under the Standard Hospital Benefit (SHB) and delivered in the home by registered nurses, when medically necessary and referred by a physician.

The SHB is the minimum coverage included in any health insurance plan offered in Bermuda. The questions of support for caring for our elderly parents is not easy, but hopefully with coverage of home medical services and the support of local organizations, some of the challenges will be alleviated.

Jennifer Attride-Stirling is the CEO of the Bermuda Health Council.