Nursing Home Contract Review
With well over a thousand facilities in Illinois alone, choosing a nursing home to provide long-term care for yourself or for a loved one is no easy undertaking. But once you’ve done your homework, and decided on a suitable facility, the next step can seem equally daunting—reviewing the seemingly endless amount of paperwork associated with the admissions process, and more importantly, ensuring that you fully understand it. Few realize the legal significance of entering into legally binding contractual agreements, especially when the documents they are signing involve matters that may be entirely unfamiliar to them.
Pursuant to federal and/or state law, a written contract between the resident and the nursing home is required before a person can be admitted. The contract can be signed by either the resident, or their guardian, legal representative, or family member. It outlines a variety of matters, including conditions of acceptance; services to provided and supplemental/optional services; specific costs for particular services; deposits made and payment schedules; persons/sources responsible for payment; rights, duties, and obligations of both parties; and other terms affecting or pertaining to the resident and/or the facility.
As with other contracts, it is important to remember that nursing home contracts, too, are intended to protect the interests of both parties. Far too often though, nursing home contracts contain illegal or unfair terms, which upon acceptance of, can create legal impediments if an incident occurs or a dispute were to arise in the future.
Some may feel pressured to agree to contract terms presented by the facility, often due to the need to attain immediate admission, expedite the process, and/or reserve a resident’s place. Others may not fully comprehend the complex language and terminology set forth within the contract, or may not take the time to completely read through its lengthy contents.
Some red flags to look out for:
- Third-party financial guarantees for payment;
- Requiring a Deposit from person in which payments are made through Medicare/ Medicaid;
- Requiring a legal representative to use his or her own funds to pay for nursing home charges;
- Agreements to pay private pay rates for a certain duration;
- Agreements to certify, waive, or forego, or delay eligibility/application to Medicare/Medicaid benefits;
- Failure to state whether or not the facility accepts Medicare/Medicaid and/or whether the resident will be retained when/if the source of funding changes;
- Arbitration clauses pertaining to Wrongful Death;
- Restrictions on legal remedies or access to courts;
- Mandating the use of alternative dispute resolution when not required by law or court-ordered;
- Lack of specificity or ambiguity regarding provided services, as well as supplemental services, and the respective costs of each;
- A facility staff member is pressuring or coercing a prospective resident, or their legal representative, guardian, spouse or family member to sign a contract in order to gain admittance.
While many clauses contained within nursing home contracts are typical, ordinary, and expected components to such agreements, others should give rise for concern. Make sure you are able to properly decipher between the two before signing any documents for the long-term care of yourself or a loved one. With the average monthly cost for long-term care in Illinois facility at >$5,000, and some nursing homes charging $30,000 or more PER MONTH, it is easy to see just how worthwhile having your contract reviewed by an attorney can be.
Whether this is your fist time dealing with a nursing home contract, or it is time to renew your contract with an existing facility, the Chicago Nursing Home Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. encourage you to meet with a qualified professional who can review the terms of the contract and explain your legal rights. Don’t hesitate to contact us via phone at 773-516-4100, or if you prefer, send a message using the online form provided below.