When an au pair is injured or gets ill, their health insurance is supposed to cover their care. But sometimes managing the both getting care and getting it paid for is more than any of us can handle.
Even those of us host parents who have “good” health insurance can get beaten down by copays, out of network problems, out of pockets costs, overcharging, and more. And as annoyed as I get every single time I open a medical bill or contest the cost of a prescription at CVS, it has to be worse for an au pair. Many of them come from countries that have simpler and/or better basic health care, and none of them come prepared to navigate our US system.
What can we do to help our au pairs when they seek medical care?
How can we help them find the right care, and also help them find care that they can afford?
Focusing just on health care (not dental care) can you all share some of the experiences you’ve had, and what you’ve learned about how to help?
This question comes from an email related to earlier posts about au pairs who’ve gotten ill:
Our recently departed au pair injured her ankle playing soccer. She went to a general practitioner, who treated her for a sprain. When she didn’t feel like she was getting better, she went to a doc-in-the-box for an x-ray, then off to an orthopedist for a cast. Luckily we didn’t need her to drive, and she was going home soon, so we (or reatherm, she) hobbled through her last few weeks and then flew home.
She asked me to open her remaining medical bills and scan them for her– and I’ve been appaled by what she’s being charged and also by the number of (what seem to me to be) unnecessary procedures.
And it wasn’t just for her ankle. She had also gone to an ob/gyn for some physical issues she was having related to birth control. The ob/gyn ordered every single test you can imagine — to the tune of $1700. These probably would get covered under “well woman” visits under regular insurance. But, I am positive that the CISI policy our Au Pair had will not cover these– it explicitly excludes everything related to ob/gyn that’s not illness-related.
Our Au Pair was very careful to choose someone who takes the CISI insurance– she called ahead to confirm, and seemed to have it all in hand. But, she just didn’t know enough to realize that labs and prescriptions are not part of the medical provider coverage. I am so angry at the doctor right now for not checking with our Au Pair and with her insurance before ordering all these tests.
And, I’m upset because it never occurred to me to warn her about all of this. It’s a lot of money for an au pair, and I know that this au pair takes her responsibilities seriously and won’t want to ignore the bills– but I wonder how she’ll pay them.
What should I have done to help? Is there a procedure that au pairs should go through? Are there ways to work around the system, or to get help with the insurance, so that the au pairs can get the coverage they need and not bankrupt themselves (or wait until they go home for treatment)?
I’d love to know what other host parents and au pairs have done. Thanks for your ideas, ~ OutOfNetworkHostMom