Thursday, September 17, 2015

Word of the day: guarantor

I went online to make a co-pay for my yearly physical and found a form that asked for "guarantor's name." Were they asking about my HMO? No. After seeing, a few lines later, a request for the guarantor's birthdate, I could guess that the guarantor was me.

A guarantor is “one that gives a guaranty” or “one that guarantees.” And a guaranty is “an undertaking to answer for the payment of a debt or the performance of a duty of another in case of the other's default or miscarriage.”

Perhaps guarantor is a fit word for one who makes a co-pay. Yes, I have to pay, and I’m good for it. But this form’s language is unnecessarily obscure. What’s wrong with patient ?

comments: 3

misterbagman said...

IT may be that some statute or regulation requires the use of the term "guarantor." Guarantor is probably used in this context instead of patient because it describes a legal relationship you have with the company employing the doctors and other care-givers. You may be the patient of those care-givers, but with respect to the cost of care, you are the guarantor for your insurance company. Should your insurer deny the claim, you promise that the bill will nevertheless get paid. You also might be the guarantor for another - a dependent child or elderly parent, for example, who is covered by your health plan. So there is a good reason, but it may not be a reason the folks who are requiring that you fill out the form want you to linger over.

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer; ask your own lawyer for specific advice about your situation.

And as always, Professor L., I enjoy your blog immensely.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for a legal point of view, Mister B, and for your appreciative words about Orange Crate Art. Your explanation sounds right. My insurance had already paid for my visit (except for the co-pay), so there was no question of defaulting. But the form of course didn’t know that.

If the person at the desk had asked for a co-pay at the time of my visit (I was assured there wasn’t one), I wouldn’t have gotten to write this post, or this comment. :)

Michael Leddy said...

Garner’s Modern American Usage on guaranty: “It is mostly used in banking and other financial contexts, and seldom appears outside legal writing.”

It’s interesting that the only way to pay the co-pay (at least online) is to identify yourself as the guarantor. It seems a little (or a lot?) like signing a contract without realizing it.