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Mystery insurance charge on my elderly father's checking
Old 12-17-2012, 07:26 AM   #1
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Mystery insurance charge on my elderly father's checking

My nearly 90 year old dad has a mystery health insurance charge on his checking account from United HC. It is something like $15 a month.

Dad has some cognitive impairment, so he doesn't know what it is for. He says that Medicare and his trade union pay everything when he goes to the hospital. He has thrown out all EOBs, etc from recent hospital stays.

I'm thankful that nobody has come looking for him to pay, so he clearly has coverage. He's had an estimated $1M in hospital stays over the last 10 years.

But what is this $15 payment? I think it might be something from AARP. I found some piece of paper somewhere that said "AARP Hospital Indemnity Plan." I think that organization is taking advantage of my dad. Aren't they supposed to support seniors? Don't think so. Looks to me like they raise money to lobby (party?) in DC. Dad keeps reading their paper and wants to buy their "junk" products that are advertised (recently, he wants to get some annuity they advertise).

Anyway, how do I go about finding out what this is. Call AARP? Call the credit card company? UHC? All of the above? And is "AARP Hospital Indemnity" worth *anything*?

Thanks. Haven't visited here a while. Been busy taking care of Dad.

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Old 12-17-2012, 07:59 AM   #2
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Hi Joe. Taking care of Dad will keep you busy. Fortunate for him you have the time and are willing to do it.

This is a tough problem if you don't have POA or are not authorized to access his account. The bank can tell you the name of the business the payment is being sent to and give you a reference number. Calling that business with the reference will identify the contract or agreement, and should allow you to determine if it is appropriate for your father. They may not be willing to discuss it with you if you can't show you are authorized to speak on his behalf.

Many organizations market heavily to seniors and are especially attentive to seniors with cognative decline. This is immoral and unethical, but not unlawful. My experience is the only way to deal with that is for you to review the mail and financial transactions as regularly as possible, and personally intervene with those organizations that continuously pitch the same products over and again.

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Old 12-17-2012, 08:14 AM   #3
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Thanks Michael.

I have POA, but am finding that it takes hoop-jumping to get it to work. In this case, however, we've done the work with the bank so I'm good to go.

Sorry I mixed up my original message and put "credit card company" in there. No, it is his checking account, which I have authority to work with.

So, off to start with a call to the bank. Thanks. I'll need that for the insurance company because I have absolutely no record of this insurance in Dad's files -- just the monthly automatic payment and a post card from AARP saying "you have valuable coverage" but no contract number or anything, just marketing lingo. Duh-oh!
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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I am the legal guardian for my great aunt and even that is sometimes a hassle but less hassle than a POA. I have found it is easiest to try to get on-line access for insurance, certain investments, etc. as I can "impersonate" my aunt and do what needs to be done. Since I'm appointed as her legal guardian by a court, I'm not too concerned about getting in a lot of trouble.

I'm not necessarily recommending this approach, but it seems to work and be less frustrating for me.

Is there any way that you can get on the United HC website, create a user id and password for your dad's policy and find out what is going on? (and I suspect cancel the policy at the end of the day).

You could always just have the bank reject future payments, but it would be good to know what the $15 is for before cutting it off.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #5
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I've had dealing with investment co.s, ins. co.s, etc, for my 89yr dad. there has been more than 1 occasion where I am on the phone with them with him in the room. they'll say "put him on the phone"; I hand the phone to him, they MIGHT go as far as to ask him last 4. otherwise, he just says it's ok for me to talk on his behalf. sheesh! what a crock! glad we emptied those accts before anyone else did
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:36 PM   #6
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Yep, done a lot of this. The online thing is good. Except in this case I have no idea what the policy number is. Like others mention, I have the POA to back me up legally, but try to do what I can without invoking it.

In this case, I'm probably going to do this with Dad sitting there and let them ask his identity. Been there too with some other accounts.

Oh, and I've put my voice in "old man's mode" and acted like him. That feels weird and I'm not going to do that again.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
Oh, and I've put my voice in "old man's mode" and acted like him. That feels weird and I'm not going to do that again.
Considering the complications of the other methods of being able to communicate on his behalf, I wouldn't be so quick to write off this option...

Call center staffs are incredibly patient, helpful, and supportive when they realize that they're dealing with an elder who might be confused and unsure of their responses.

Or so I've heard.

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Old 12-23-2012, 03:34 PM   #8
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checking account from United HC. It is something like $15 a month.

I have seen AARP ads for medigap insurance thru United Healthcare (United HC?).Those guys will keep taping the checking account until there is no more to tap.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:13 AM   #9
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I wanted to follow up. I found a piece of paper with Dad's policy information and a contact call number.

I have to say that the customer reps at AARP/UHC were the kindest, clearest, most helpful representatives of any insurance I've contacted in the last few years. They were very helpful. I let them know who I was and verbally told them I had POA authority. When I gave a few of Dad's details, they authorized me to discuss his cases.

I don't agree with this kind of plan (pay about $16 per month, and your benefit is you get about $50 per day of inpatient hospitalization), but my parents bought it so it is what it is.

Dad was hospitalized last year so we'll file a claim, and the process sounds pretty easy. Before Dad's dementia crept up on him, he filed a few claims in the past, all successfully. They helpfully gave me the history.

Unfortunately, his dementia had him forget about claiming some other hospitalizations. The filing period has lapsed. It is a lesson learned for me... I'm glad we're helping Dad now with his finances. It makes me realized we should have gotten more deeply involved earlier. Thankfully, this is one of the few mistakes he made and is very minor.

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