- What are Advance Directives?
A living will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney—are the legal documents that allow you to give direction to medical personnel, family, and friends concerning your future care when you cannot speak for yourself. You do not need a lawyer in order to complete Advance Directives.
You have the right to make decisions about your own medical treatment. These decisions become more difficult if, due to illness or a change in mental condition, you are unable to tell your doctor and loved ones what kind of health care treatments you want. That is why it is important for you to make your wishes known in advance.
- What are the different types of advance directives?
- Living Will: A set of instructions documenting your wishes about life- sustaining medical care. It is used if you become terminally ill, incapacitated, or unable to communicate or make decisions. A living will protects your rights to accept or refuse medical care and removes the burden for making decisions from your family, friends, and medical professionals.
- Health Care Proxy : A person (agent) you appoint to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so. Choose someone you know well and trust to represent your preferences. Be sure to discuss this with the person before naming them as your agent. Remember that an agent may have to use their judgment in the event of a medical decision for which your wishes aren’t known.
- Durable Power of Attorney: For health care: A legal document that names your health care proxy. Once written, it should be signed, dated, witnessed, notarized, copied, and put into your medical record. For Finances: You may also want to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs when you cannot. A durable power of attorney for finances is a separate legal document from the durable power of attorney for health care. You may choose the same person for both, or choose different people to represent you.
- Where can I find out how much a service is going to cost?
The best way to determine your costs is to discuss your coverage options and needs with your insurer or our hospital. This is the only way to explore your personal situation and most accurately determine the potential out-of-pocket costs of care you or a loved one may need.
- Are the amounts listed what I will have to pay for a service?
More than likely, no. The amounts we have listed on our website are base, undiscounted prices. They do not necessarily reflect a patient’s actual financial responsibility, which can vary significantly based on the care and services an individual requires, if he or she is insured, and by which insurer or plan he or she is covered.
The amount collected by our hospital is almost always less than the amount provided on our website. Government programs, such as Medicare, pay hospitals much less than the amount listed. Similarly, commercial insurers typically negotiate discounts with hospitals like ours on behalf of the patients they cover.
- Why can't you provide actual charges or out-of-pocket costs for patients?
Charges and out-of-pocket costs vary a lot from person to person and are difficult for us to estimate. A person’s financial responsibility – or out-of-pocket costs – is dependent on many factors, including if he or she is insured, by which insurer and under which plan he or she is covered, and if he or she qualifies for financial assistance.
Because this varies so much from individual to individual, we cannot make blanket statements about actual charges or out-of-pocket costs. Also, any charges that a patient incurs are dependent on a variety of factors such as how long he or she has to stay in the hospital, unexpected complications that arise, specific supplies and items needed for his or her care, and additional testing required or recommended to assess his or her condition. One patient’s needs may be vastly different from another’s even though they come to the hospital for the same procedure. It is difficult to estimate how this can differ.
We do encourage all patients to contact their insurer or Southwestern Medical Center at 580-531-4022 to discuss their individual situations and determine the potential out-of-pocket costs of care they or a loved one may need.
- How does a provider set their prices?
Healthcare providers’ prices are based on the cost of the service (i.e. equipment and supplies, personnel, etc.), prices charged by competitors and prices of similar services offered.
Hospital prices are set to take into account the expected mix of patients seen and reflect expected payments from varied payers, such as insurance companies and the government. In addition, they are typically set to achieve an overall small positive margin, so a hospital can keep up with community needs, reinvest in the hospital’s services and facility, provide care for those who can’t pay, and collaborate with and support organizations that share its mission.
- Why do different providers have different prices? Shouldn't one service cost about the same from one facility to the next?
Prices vary because all hospitals are different. Size, staffing, technology and equipment, services offered, the intensity of care provided, patients served, and many other factors all impact how much money a hospital needs to operate – and how much it charges for services.
- What are you doing to help patients reduce or better manage their out-of-pocket costs?
As you can imagine, we are subject to many legal and regulatory restrictions when it comes to patient costs, but we are offering what programs, payment options and discounts that we can.
Southwestern Medical Center can help individuals determine the potential costs of care they or a loved one may need and explore what programs, payment options, and discounts may be available to them by calling 580-531-4022.