Friday, August 13, 2010

A spouse, child or other relative helps check-in a loved-on into a nursing home. The relative is supplied numerous “admission forms” to sign. Watch out! One form may be an “acceptance of responsibility” contract. That’s right… when helping your loved-one admit to a nursing home, you may unwittingly guaranty payment of the nursing home bill should the patient not be able to pay.

If you sign an “acceptance of responsibility” contract, the nursing home will look to you as the “responsible party” for nursing home costs. This often occurs when the patient’s insurance, Medicaid or private funds run out, and the nursing home doesn’t realize the bill is not being paid for a number of months. When the nursing home discovers there are not funds to pay for the intervening months, they will look to the person who signed the “acceptance of responsibility” contract.

Can a Nursing Home Require You Sign?

The law clearly states that a nursing home cannot require a relative to sign an “acceptance of responsibility” contract for admission of a loved-one. Unfortunately, this does not stop some nursing homes from sliding a guarantee agreement under the nose of the responsible party as one of the forms that needs to be signed without explanation. If the relative complains later on, the nursing home will simply argue the contract was signed voluntarily and it is binding.

As such, be aware of the forms you are signing when assisting a loved-one with admission to a nursing home. If you are unsure what you are signing, you have the right to ask for an explanation of the documents. Make sure you are not signing any type of financial responsibility contracts.