What to do about medical bills that go to volunteers or host families
It is always a good idea to try to get any cost for participant care to be billed directly to GMMI. (Host families who identify themselves as the ‘guarantor’ of bills may find themselves being billed repeatedly for services, thus it is best to have the provider bill GMMI directly.)
An effective way to facilitate this is to utilize medical facilities that are part of GMMI networks and have the participant’s medical ID card ready at the time of care. When the provider bills GMMI directly, this relieves the participant and host family from worrying about reimbursement of expenses.
Encourage the medical provider to call GMMI to verify coverage and to bill them directly. While it may be necessary to sign documents around obtaining medical care for a minor, try to avoid signing documents that accept financial responsibility for resulting medical expenses.
Instead, write that AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc. carries insurance for participant medical costs and indicate that this can be verified through claims administrator GMMI by calling (954) 370-6404.
Sometimes a host family or volunteer will pay for a participant’s medical expense up front. They can then submit the bill to GMMI for reimbursement.
If a volunteer or host family signs for the medical expenses, they can expect to receive a bill requesting payment from the medical provider.
The best thing to do is to forward the bill to GMMI immediately. Don’t wait until the end of the participant’s stay.
GMMI needs up to 30 days to process a claim. If the host family or volunteer can submit the medical bill to GMMI immediately, then GMMI is in a position to pay it before the provider issues other notices.
Medical billing cycles send out notices on regular cycles. It is possible that a family or volunteer could receive follow-up demands for payment even after having submitted a bill to GMMI. This is because it takes time for payment to be received and paid which will stop the billing cycle.
If the issued date on the statement is less than 30 days from the time the previous invoice was submitted to GMMI, you can disregard it. It is likely that the system sent the invoice out automatically.
If a family or volunteer receives a follow-up demand after forwarding a bill to GMMI, they should not hesitate to call GMMI to confirm that payment to the provider was made. They can then ignore any further notices.
Occasionally, a volunteer or host family may receive a bill for something already paid by the AFS Medical Plan. This is usually due to “balance billing.” When providers work with medical networks, they agree to receive reduced payments from them. Providers sometimes bill the patient for the difference but neither the patient nor the host family is responsible for this difference. The provider has agreed with GMMI to accept the negotiated payment as payment in full. If they then bill for the difference between the negotiated amount and their standard charge, this is what is called “Balance Billing”. If this happens, notify GMMI and they will call the provider to fix the issue.
If a volunteer or family receives a bill for all or part of a medical expense that was paid under the Medical Plan, they should let GMMI know. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of the claim and describe the bill received (if possible, scan the bill and include the image in your email to GMMI). GMMI can then intervene on the volunteer’s or family’s behalf.
Please refer to the AFS Participant Medical Pamphlet for details.