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Preparing for Your Hospital Stay - Topic Overview

Not all hospital stays begin in the emergency room. Sometimes you have time to prepare for a scheduled hospital stay. But even when you don't have an emergency medical problem, getting ready to go to the hospital may leave you feeling overwhelmed and even a little stressed. By taking steps to prepare for your stay ahead of time, you can get control of some of that stress and save that energy for feeling better as soon as possible.

Plan ahead for those medical bills

Most insurance plans require that you let them know ahead of time about your hospital stay. If you don't, there's a risk that the plan will refuse to cover your stay.

You'll also want to make sure that the hospital you're going to is covered under your plan.

If you have no insurance

If you don't have insurance, call the hospital's billing department before your stay and ask them what they can do to help you. Many hospitals have financial counselors. They will likely arrange a payment plan for you. They may even offer you a discount.

Your hospital may offer a larger discount if you pay all or some of the bill ahead of time. You may also be able to negotiate with various care providers to lower the cost of your stay and treatment.

If you have little or no income, you may qualify for a hospital's charity care program or government assistance.

Make your wishes known to loved ones

Before you go into the hospital, fill out a living will and medical power of attorney.

It's smart to have these documents ready—and to make sure your loved ones know where they are—because in the unlikely event that they're needed, they will be a huge help to your family.

  • Living willLiving will. This is a document that states your wishes about end-of-life medical treatment if you are unable to speak for yourself.
  • Medical power of attorney. This document names a health care agent, someone you choose who will make medical decisions on your behalf when you're not able to do so.

Decide about banking blood

If you are going to have surgery and expect to need a blood transfusion, you may want to bank your own blood a few weeks before the surgery. If you do need a transfusion, doctors can use your own blood.

Many people consider this choice to protect themselves from the risks of disease or mismatched blood that are linked to blood transfusion. Talk to your doctor about your risks.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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